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Apr 9, 2012

"Devil in the Milk" & Planned A2 Milk Expansion in the United Kingdom

In 2007, Keith Woodford published his book Devil in the Milk: Illness, Health and the Politics of A1 and A2 Milk. Woodford is a professor of farm management and agribusiness at Lincoln University in New Zealand.  His book analyzed the potential links between the increased consumption of milk and dairy products and the increase in modern diseases such as heart disease, Type 1 diabetes, autism and schizophrenia. His book reviewed more than 100 scientific papers and concluded that a switch to A2 milk would benefit many people. His book received much international interest but also generated much political controversy and criticism from certain medical and business sectors.

Following up on this new interest in A2 milk consumption, Robert Wiseman Dairies, which currently supplies approximately one third of fresh milk in the United Kingdom has decided to promote A2 milk.  In November 2011, it signed an agreement with New Zealand's A2 Corporation to expand the production and consumption of A2 milk throughout Great Britain.  As more follow up to this new business venture, Robert Wiseman Dairies has announced that it will launch a series of new A2 products in the United Kingdom by late summer or fall 2012.

A2 Corporation is a New Zealand based company that was first listed on the NZX Alternative Market (NZAX) in 2004.   It has dairy operations in New Zealand and Australia.  Its mission is to "commercialize the unique intellectual properties related to A2 Milk," which it defines as patents, trademarks, and proprietary processes.

Cows can produce two different types of beta-casein proteins - A1 and A2. Traditional cattle breeds such as Zebu and native Asian cattle all produce A2 milk.  This is similar in composition to water buffalo, yak, camel, and goat milk.  At some point in history, dairy farmers began to raise more cows that either produce A1 proteins exclusively or a combination of A1 and A2 proteins.  Currently, a majority of milk purchased in the United States and the European Union is A1 and either lacks A2 or has a small percentage of A2.  A2 Corporation promotes the consumption of A2 milk.   A2 Corporation cites health statistics showing that "23% of people in Western countries have a perceived intolerance to dairy milk... of these only 6% are medically diagnosed as lactose intolerant and 1% have an allergy to cows milk protein.  Many people who are self diagnosed lactose intolerant report they can drink A2 milk without discomfort."

Since signing the agreement with A2 Corporation, Wiseman Dairies has begun creating an "A2 milk supply pool."  It has issued notices to local dairy farmers throughout the United Kingdom that it can provide herd conversion incentives and cover all DNA testing costs to determine if a cow produces A2 milk.  To date, it has tested over 8,000 dairy cows and approximately one-third of these produce some A2 milk and could be bred to augment an A2 milk supply pool.  Wiseman Dairies has committed to pay more for A2 milk (2.5ppl more than the average Wiseman farmgate milk price which is currently at 28.43 ppl). 

For more see: 
Woodford, Keith. Devil in the Milk: Illness, Health and Politics : A1 and A2 Milk. Nelson, N.Z.: Craig Potton Publishing, 2007.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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