Lactose intolerant? Maybe not. You might just be drinking the wrong kind of milk.
A Nebraska dairy has recently partnered with an Australian milk company to produce milk that’s a little easier on the tummy.
The a2 Milk Company has become a successful brand in the Australian market, and now the company is bringing A2 protein milk to the United States.
Most cows’ milk contains two types of beta-casein protein, A1 and A2. A2 Milk is natural milk that comes from selected cows that naturally produce only the A2 protein and no A1.
Company research has shown the A2 protein is digested differently to A1 and many consumers have given positive testimonials that they can drink a2 Milk without discomfort. A2 Milk has been filling glasses in New Zealand, Britain, and Australia; and now the company has returned to its original test market in the Midwest for milk production.
Dan Rice and his family own Prairieland Dairy, located in Firth, Nebraska. The 1,400-head operation became believers in the potential benefits of A1 protein-free milk in 2006 when The a2 Milk Company originally test marketed the product via a license agreement as a joint venture.
Now that The a2 Milk Company has made a name for itself in Australia, the company decided to re-enter the U.S. market without a license agreement, acting solely as a2 Milk. Prairieland Dairy was more than happy to get back on board with a2.
“We believe in the product because we have seen it change consumers’ lives — people who could not drink milk in the past can now enjoy real dairy products again,” Rice said. “A2 Milk is one of the only fluid milk products that is bringing consumers back to dairy and that’s an exciting proposition for us here at Prairieland.”
To join the a2 Milk program, Prairieland had to DNA test all their cows and segregate those A2 protein producing cows.
“We call that our ‘VIP Club,’” Rice said. “Now, they are milked and housed separately to ensure our end product is pure A2 protein milk up to The a2 Milk Company’s extremely high standards.”
“A simple way of thinking about this is that some people have brown eyes and some blue and some green – some cows produce only A1 protein, some produce a blend of A1 and A2 proteins, and some produce only A2 proteins,” said a2 Milk CEO Blake Waltrip. “On average about 30 percent of cows in most U.S. herds could be A2 protein-only producing cows. The a2 Milk Company produces a pure, natural milk by only using the cows that produce A2 protein.”
Waltrip said the company will be looking for other dairies in the U.S. to join the program. To enroll, the farm must first go through a highly diligent testing protocol, ensuring the highest standards of quality production. The a2 Milk Company then tests the cows to identify every single A2 protein-producing cow through a simple, non-invasive hair test. Those cows are then separated for A2 protein-producing cows.
Next the farm’s facilities are fully cleaned and tested to confirm they’re producing pure and true a2 Milk rather than milk which contains the A1 protein. Last the company works with the dairy processor as the final step in a2 Milk production.
“All this to say, we understand that producing A1 protein-free milk adds a layer to the dairy farmer’s day-to-day and that’s why we pay a premium,” Waltrip said. “With the industry in a $1 billion decline, we feel this is an opportunity for farmers they’ve yet to see and we look forward to seeing more farms join The a2 Milk Company.”
It was an opportunity Prairieland couldn’t pass up. Rice said a2 has allowed his dairy to reach many more customers nationwide.
“The a2 Milk Company program helps expands our customer reach — we can now offer a real dairy option to those customers who normally would buy almond or soy milk without having to drastically change our company’s business model or values,” Rice said. “They’re also fantastic to work with and lead with a level of passion when it comes to human health and the dairy business.”
Waltrip said the company hopes to become a premium brand in the national U.S. market in the next five years.
“We already have many dairies contacting us to be part of our brand, as they genuinely recognize that a2 Milk helps the 1 in 4 Americans who are living compromised lives [avoiding the taste and benefits of real and natural milk],” Waltrip said. “We are taking a measured approach to extending our brand across markets in the U.S. and will hence take a measured approach to bringing incremental dairies into The a2 Milk Company as both volume and geography requires.”
Currently the milk has only been launched in California and parts of Colorado. The milk is sold in a half gallon size and average retail is $3.99 per carton.
“Often a trend-setting state when it comes to health, wellness, and nutrition, California has been a strong market for lactose-free milk and plant-based beverages as an alternative to real dairy and we know this is a prime geography to lead Americans back to a real dairy option that provides all of the nutritional benefits of milk, without indigestion and discomfort,” Waltrip said.
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