Al Ain Dairy has launched a range of camel-milk ice cream in six flavours – date, saffron, cardamom, chocolate, caramel and “lite” raspberry vanilla with sauces and nuts for a Middle Eastern flavour – and they’ll soon be available in local hypermarkets.
The company, which introduced the Camelait brand of milk products in 2004, offers a 125g tub of camel ice cream for Dh10, while a one-litre tub costs Dh70.
“This is a premium product, which forces us to raise the price,” says Shashi Kumar Menon, the chief executive of Al Ain Dairy. “The demand for camel milk is also driven by Emiratis and Arab expatriates, so we are targeting that segment.”
The farms now produce 5,500 litres of camel milk everyday.
The company has also expanded into manufacturing camel-milk powder using spray-drying technology from Denmark. The powder has a one-year shelf life and costs from Dh63 for a pack of three 25g sachets.
An increasing body of research is pointing to the health benefits of camel milk and pitching it as an alternative for those with lactose intolerance.
A research by United Arab Emirates University last year showed that camel milk has three times the amount of vitamin C compared with cow milk, while drinking camel laban helps reduce hypertension. Other studies have noted camel milk to be beneficial for diabetics because of its high insulin levels. Camel milk also has less fat – an average of 2.5 per cent (cow milk that has 3.5 per cent). Anecdotal reports show a positive result of camel milk on children with autism.
Milk production potential of Bactrian camel has been reported to be low (0.5–1 L/day) as compared to dromedaries, but it has been also reported from Kazakhstan that these camels produce as high as 6–7 L of milk/day, which is higher than the milk production potential of local cows and dromedaries .
The percent value of protein, lactose, fat, ash and total solids in colostrum of Bactrian camel are 14.23, 4.44, 0.27, 0.77 and 20.16%, respectively, whereas in the milk these values were 3.55, 4.24, 5.65, 0.87 and 14.31%, respectively . The percent value of protein, lactose, fat, ash and total solids in Chinese Bactrian camel milk are 3.90, 4.50, 5.32, 0.83 and 14.52, respectively  The pH, acidity (%), density, viscosity (mPa s), electrical conductivity (µS/cm) of regular fresh Bactrian camel milk ranged from 6.37 to 6.57, 0.17 to 0.20, 1.028 to 1.040, 6.79 to 7.16 and 0.380 to 0.547 × 104, respectively . The Alxa Bactrian had stronger buffering capacity than that of bovine milk .
The Bactrian camel’s milk is high in fat because these animals live in a cold desert environment and higher fat provides more energy to the suckling calves. The fat quantity in milk also depends upon the availability of water . Milk fat composition revealed that the ratio of C12:0 to C18:0 saturated fatty acids in colostrum was lower than that of regular milk and the predominant saturated fatty acids were C14:0, C16:0 and C18:0, despite the lactation phase. Considerable level of polyunsaturated fatty acid (C18:1) was also reported in Bactrian milk [83, 123]. The composition of fatty acids in Bactrian camel showed slight differences than to dromedary milk. Dromedary milk contains higher amount of C10, C18 and C18:1 (n−7), while Bactrian milk is richer in C14, C16 and C18:1 (n−9) [4, 43]. The levels of Ca, P, Na, K and Cl were 222.58, 153.74, 65.0, 136.5 and 141.1 mg/100 g, respectively, in colostrum and 154.57, 116.82, 72.0, 191.0 and 152.0 mg/100 g, respectively, in the Bactrian camel milk . The levels of vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B6 and D were 0.97, 29.60, 1.45, 0.12, 1.24, 0.54 mg/L and 640 IU/L, respectively, in milk. Levels of vitamin A and C contents in milk were higher, whereas amount of vitamins E and B1 were lower than those in colostrums .