Why is camel milk so expensive?

  • 11.05.2022 22:18
  • Category: Finance
Photo: Getty Images

Camel milk can cost around $30 per litre. Compare that to cow's milk, and it's almost 30 times more expensive.

But for hundreds of years, camels have been used to produce milk, yogurt, and even cheese. So why would anyone milk a camel? And what makes milk so expensive?

Camel milk may not be as popular as cow milk. Compared to the 600 million tons of cow milk produced in the world, only about 3 million tons of camel milk are produced annually.

However, camel milk is an important food item in Africa and the Middle East and some cultures rely on it. Somalia and Kenya alone produce 64% of the world's camel milk.

Photo: Getty Images

The Camelicious Farm in Dubai has over 6,000 camels and produces 4 million liters of milk every year.

“As you know, people in the Middle East were associated with camels for transport and for food, and their main diet was camel milk and dates. So it's a long story. The demand for camel milk is increasing day by day, and now we are facing the task of meeting the demand because the supply is less than the demand at the moment,” says Mutasher Al Badri, general manager of the company.

This demand kept the price high, and the popularity of camel milk as the new health food boosted sales. It has slightly less saturated fat, but 10 times more vitamin C and more calcium and potassium than cow's milk.

These benefits have led many people to start using it as an alternative medicine despite very limited evidence. The endorsements of famous people have also led to more and more people trying to start consuming it in their diet.

While new camel farms are popping up all over the world, popularity is still limited and there are still 12,000 cows for every camel in Europe. But even if you have a lot of camels, it is not easy to get milk.

Photo: Getty Images

“Roughly speaking, we milk 1,300 camels twice a day, so it's a very stressful job. Many people are included in the work. So when camels come here, they go through a very strict quarantine procedure, then we check them for various diseases, treat them if necessary, and start preparing them for the milking parlor,” says Judit Juhasz, head veterinarian.

It is very important that we provide a very relaxed, very calm environment for the camels during milking so that they can release their milk. So we had to train camels. And every camel is different.

So for some camels, training for the milking parlor itself takes two or three days, but for some camels it took weeks.

Once this training period is over and your camels are producing milk, you still won't reach the same level as a cow.

One cow can give about 50 liters a day, and a camel can give 6 to 7 liters. Cows will give more than 50,000 liters in three years, and camels will produce a maximum of 4,000-7,000 liters in three years,” says Al Badri.

Photo: Getty Images

Unlike the dairy industry, where males are often killed and disposed of, each camel must be kept close to its calf in order to continue producing milk, meaning that two animals need to be fed and kept healthy to produce just 7 liters of milk each day.

“The high cost of camel milk comes in addition to their cost of nutrition. We here at Camelicious give our camels natural and fresh alfalfa, hay, in addition to wheat. We do not give any concentrates or feed additives,” adds Al Badri.

So, after all this work, what does milk look like?

Smells like milk. Yes, it has a different taste. It's a bit salty, probably even more salty than regular milk, but it's quite creamy.

As the popularity of this milk grows and selective breeding leads to camels that produce more milk, the price may come down. But for now, camel milk remains an expensive luxury.

“The camel is a different species, so we did not want and do not want to turn it into a milking machine, because we think for a long time, for the future. So we would like to have a long production life here with these camels on this farm,” says Youhasz.

Prepared by: Nikita Smirnov nikita_smirnov@tempting.pro