SYDNEY — The success of a fledgling dairy company in marketing a controversial type of milk that is said to be easy to digest has prompted some large dairy companies to put aside their skepticism and introduce their own versions.
New Zealand-based Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd., the world’s largest exporter of dairy products, which sells anchor butter and continental cheese to the United States, announced in February that it would start producing milk. A2, which only contains the A2 beta-casein protein, after years of dismissing it as a gimmick. In the same month, Nestlé SA began selling a new infant powder made from A2 milk in China, hoping to boost sales in a lucrative market for foreign dairy companies after the 2008 tainted milk scandal.
Both follow the success of a2 Milk Co., a New Zealand-based company that has found fans in its home country, as well as Australia and China, and has recently entered the US market. The company’s revenue is expected to increase by around 70% in the year ending June, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. It already holds more than 10% of the milk market in Australia. A similar share in the United States would represent around $ 1.5 billion in annual sales, according to Euromonitor International.
A2 milk differs from regular milk because the latter contains both A1 and A2 proteins. Supporters of A2 milk argue that it’s the A1 protein that causes indigestion in many people, a problem that lactose-free milk won’t solve. Skeptics say there hasn’t been enough independent research to show there’s a real benefit to A2 milk, which is naturally produced by cows with a particular set of genes. A DNA test can determine which cows in a herd produce only A2 milk.
While the science behind so-called A2 milk remains controversial, the entry of large companies into the market shows how changing consumer preferences are creating new opportunities that dairy giants cannot afford to ignore, all the more so. that profits have been eroded in recent years by everything from almond milk to dairy-free ice cream. In the United States, traditional milk sales have fallen by about 7% per year on average over the past four years, according to the most recent data from Nielsen.