7th December 2021 By Bridget O'Connell | email@example.com | @foodtickernz
Pāmu is continuing its drive to get deer milk into the mainstream, pinning hopes on the healthy ageing category for longterm commercial success of a ‘world first’ product.
The state-owned enterprise’s deer milk business lead, Hamish Glendinning, said the current clinical trial it was undertaking with researchers from Massey University, supported by High Value Nutrition Ko Nga Kai Whai Painga National Science Challenge funding, could be ground-breaking.
The trial aimed to provide scientific evidence around the role of Pāmu deer milk in supporting a healthy lifestyle and improving the general nutrition in adults over the age of 65.
“Long term that is where we see massive potential for the product,” Glendinning told the Ticker.
“First and foremost, the market opportunity in terms of the ageing population and the size of that market and the challenges that healthcare systems are under globally as the population ages. And we’ve got our sight set in particular on the Asian markets, where that is more profound than others.”
The opportunity comes from deer milk’s key point of difference from other milk: it is a more concentrated source of natural nutrition.
“As you age your protein requirements increase and deer milk in its natural form is high in protein and is also a natural product that tastes really good,” Glendinning said.
“So, we think those attributes combined provide an exciting alternative to what is out there in terms of an oral nutrition supplement.”
It would have to wait a little bit longer for results to come in from the trial, which involved 120 women over the age of 65, as the Delta outbreak had delayed the schedule.
In the meantime, Pāmu continued to pursue other opportunities for deer milk, which it first started exploring commercially around five years ago as it looked to increase farm-gate returns by adding value along the food chain.
It formed a partnership with Southland farmers Sharon and Peter McIntyre, and subsequently established its own pilot deer milk farm near Taupō.
The first goal – or ‘horizon one’ – for its trail-blazing deer milk was as an ingredient in the foodservice channel, and it recently made a foray into retail food products producing a limited edition ice-cream that was sold at Moore Wilson’s in a tie-up with Wellington’s Wooden Spoon Freezery.
Horizon two was the personal care category via both skincare and ingested beauty or supplements, where it has found success as the key active ingredient in a range of cosmetics marketed by South Korea’s top pharmaceutical company, Yuhan Corporation, under the Deerest brand.
And last month, it signed a deal with distributor Ciels that will see a range of premium nutritional supplements containing deer milk sold in Vietnam.
However, the requirements of developing a new product and supply chain for any of these categories should not be underestimated, Glendinning said.
“The healthy ageing trial required a liquid, so there was whole process to validate there in terms of how we pasteurise deer milk. This has never been done before so literally every time we go up against it we are like ‘right, we have got to design this’.
“Obviously we have got a long association with milk here in New Zealand, but the composition of deer milk is completely different to anything else so even just the mineral content can have a implications on how the product handles throughout the processing process. We are learning every time we go and do this.”
The cost of producing deer milk was another factor that supported the horizon three or health ageing proposition, Glendinning added.
“What we need to keep in mind is that deer milk is a really expensive ingredient. On average deer produce between one and three litres a day versus a cow which might do 25 litres,” he said.
“And it is not only the cost of that on-farm, but the cost you incur throughout the supply chain in dealing with a much smaller volume.
“That soon translates into quite a high price for the consumer, and that again is part of the reason why that horizon three work is so important to us to validate a value proposition that would actually solve the consumer need.”
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