Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Camel Milk Ice Cream, anyone?

I'm not sure I'm ready for this...

A leading dairy firm in the Middle East is attempting to trade on the health benefits of camel’s milk by using it to make a lower fat, reduced sugar ice cream.Al Ain Dairy said it had launched the first camel milk ice cream in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), positioning the product as a healthy alternative to other ice cream products.

Camel's milk has long been considered healthy in the Arab world, but discussion on its commercial potential has increased in recent years.

Al Ain, which has set up a camel farm and processing facility, said its new ice cream would be available in supermarkets and petrol stations in chocolate, caramel and strawberry flavours.
The group has targetted weight watchers by highlighting that camel milk ice cream contains only 2.5 per cent fat, compared to between six and nine per cent for standard ice creams.

It added that camel milk ice cream was safe for consumers with lactose intolerance, and contained three times more vitamin C than cow's milk.

One would still get much more vitamin C from fruit and vegetables, but it is health benefits like this that have seen camel's milk capture more attention in dairy circles.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said recently that camel's milk had strong potential with millions of consumers across Africa, Europe and the Americas.

The FAO was instrumental in developing the first camel milk cheese, dubbed 'camelbert', in 1992. Since then, camel milk chocolate has appeared, while an Israeli scientist, professor Reuven Yagil, reportedly developed a camel milk ice cream in 1999.

Low fat dairy, such as semi-skimmed and skimmed milk, has taken market share off full fat products in several western markets.

This trend has been particularly visible for ice cream in Europe over the last few months, with three large firms, including Unilever and ingredients group Danisco, announcing new low fat products.

Camel's milk, as well as being low in fat, also contains vitamin B, iron and unsaturated fatty acids.

Its nutritional value has led to a range of health claims. One small study, released by the Camel Applied Research and Development Network, found camel's milk could help treat Type 1 diabetes.

Some doctors and researchers have also said camel's milk may help treat a range of other illnesses, including ulcers, tuberculosis and even breast cancer.

More studies will be needed, however, to bring some of these claims out of regional folklore.

Being an open-minded person and having spent all my life in the food business, I am trying to have a positive attitude. But this seems like something I will have to work up to.

That neologism camelbert is a play on camembert. Not bad. Cheese products from camel milk may have a better chance at the US market than the milk itself. We don't expect the same flavor profile for cheese that we do for milk. And cheese is a better way to ship dairy products.

And besides, we have been spoiled by our own dairy industry to expect nothing but the best of fresh milk, perfectly balanced and not more than a few days old. We use canned or reconstituted dry milk only for cooking and manufacturing, so I doubt we will ever see or taste fresh camel milk in North America.

Ice cream? I dunno.

But who knows?
Herds of camels?
We do have lots of open spaces out West...
Forget it.

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