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co-founder and cameleer, Stephen Geppert

Image Credit: Good Earth Dairy

Good Earth Dairy: This Australian ‘non-dairy milk’ company is betting big on camel milk

After raising $1 million in its first equity crowdfund in October last year, Western Australia’s first commercial camel milk dairy, Good Earth Dairy, launched its second equity crowdfund on funding platform Birchal earlier in July.   

The company said it would use cash to expand operations, pay the initial construction and permissions of their niche 5000 head dairy, and accelerate Good Earth Dairy’s growth. Six-year-old Good Earth Dairy was founded to disrupt the conventional dairy industry. 

Dynamic Business spoke with Executive Chair & CEO Marcel Steingiesser about the second fundraise and how he expects to use the funds to strengthen the company’s position in the Australian dairy market.

“Our intention for Good Earth Dairy is to be a major disruption to the $552 billion dairy industry.

“Through this crowdfund, we aim to commence our next phase of growth that includes a 5000 head dairy and an $8.7 million powder manufacturing facility.”

The company produces camel milk, which it says is an easy-to-digest dairy product that tastes similar to cow’s milk, but without allergens and environmental impacts. 

Stephen Geppert, co-founder and cameleer, came up with the camel milk concept and shared experiment results with agricultural sector innovator Henry Steingiesser and the late Kim Chance, former West Australian Minister for Agriculture. 

“Camel milk has some of the best nutritional and hypoallergenic properties but suffered because of the high cost of production.

“We recognised camel milk to be a major disruption to the dairy industry, and we knew we were capable of developing innovations to reduce production costs and thus transform the industry,” Mr Steingiesser said.

Good Earth dairy now boasts over 500 shareholders.

“From Oct 2020, we have obtained over 450 new shareholders utilising the record-breaking Australian equity crowdfund (at the time) who came from all over Australia.

“The first campaign brought over 450 new shareholders bringing the total number to over 500. The total raised was for $1.2 million with an extra $155,000 coming in from a single wholesale investor shortly after,” Mr Steingiesser said. 

The new superfood

As per a market report, the dairy alternatives market is projected to grow from A$29.5 billion in 2020 to A$50.7 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 11.4% during the forecast period. 

Dairy alternatives include plant-based milk such as soy, almond, rice and oat milk. The two market drivers for non-dairy alternative milk is not the nutritional benefit but a milk substitute that is easier on the gut and allergy prevention.     

“The issue with Soy milk is [that] it contains phytoestrogen. This acts as an estrogen 5, which infants are likely to be vulnerable to,” Mr Steingiesser notes.

“Camel milk also has 3.6g of protein per 100 ml, but its proteins don’t come with the key allergen or with estrogen acting properties. 

“By comparison to the non-potentially harmful milk, camel milk has 12 times the protein of Rice milk and six times the protein of Almond milk. 

“A typical Rice Milk has 0.3g of protein per 100 ml; Almond milk has 0.6g per 100 ml with the only non-dairy milk having Protein being Soy milk with around 3.6g of protein per 100 ml.

“Also of note is the significantly higher micronutrients required for brain development, our immune system, bone and muscle health.  

Camel milk for caffeine lovers

 In 2018, Australians consumed about 102 litres of milk per person, with a portion of that consumed in coffee.  

“Camel milk has primarily been used as a healthy alternative for consumers who use it to obtain proteins without the allergens as well as the high micronutrient count,” Mr Steingiesser said.

While camel milk cappuccino is not a new concept and is popular in Africa and the Middle East, global supply is still lacking compared to other milk alternatives. This is something that Good Earth Dairy attempts to address by boosting supply and making it cheaper.

“In relation to making an impact on the coffee culture — this will come once we scale and bring the milk price to being more affordable.   

“Other than the 5000 head dairy and powder facility, we are busy building our export license facility to launch a range of dairy products (other than fresh milk) with the expected short term growth. 

“These new products will be priced to enable all Australians to enjoy the nutritionally superior product and, equally as important, be delicious too,” Mr Steingiesser concluded.        

The Booming non-dairy ‘milk’ Industry 

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey of 2011–2012, an average Australian consumes around 100 litres of milk per year, accounting for 62 per cent of total dairy consumption. 

In addition, there has been an increased presence of plant-based drinks or non-dairy milk in the market. Over the 12 months to May 2021, Australia produced about 8,231.9 million litres of milk, as per the Trade and Strategy report by Dairy Australia Limited. 

Traditional dairy products continue to dominate the ordinary consumer’s diet; however, as companies extract “milk” from an increasingly diverse range of other sources, sales of dairy alternatives have surged.  

For instance, sales of dairy substitutes increased by 48 per cent to 132 million litres during the last four years. On the other hand, milk sales increased by 4 per cent to 1.3 billion litres during the same period.  

Product development has been a critical feature in the spike in demand for non-dairy products. In Australia and New Zealand, plant-based milk is becoming increasingly popular. 

Although coconut milk and cream have a long history of use as ingredients in Asian cuisine, soy milk was the most popular milk alternative in 2007.

By 2019, the selection expanded to include oat, rice, almond, almond/coconut, hazelnut, macadamia, spelt, hemp, plant pea, and blends with coconut milk equivalents. 

Other plant products, such as pistachio, lupin, chia, and quinoa, are also used in milk substitutes worldwide.

Milk output from the four main exporters – New Zealand, the United States, the European Union including the United Kingdom, and Australia – has been gradually expanding globally.

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