Fonterra softens stand on alternative A2 milk

Last updated 00:28 31/05/2008

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Giant milk-processing company Fonterra may be changing its stance on A2 milk, which is again in short supply around the country.

The Press understands that Fonterra has been talking to distributors and to dairy farmers with A2 cows about increasing the volume of A2 milk.

It does not contain the milk protein in A1 milk, which is produced by Fonterra, that some link to illnesses such as type-1 diabetes, heart disease, autism, schizophrenia and Crohn's disease.

But yesterday's record Fonterra payout of $7.90/kg of milksolids may make it harder to convince farmers to switch - at least in the short-term.

"You'd need to be able to offer them more than that," an industry source said.

Lincoln University academic Professor Keith Woodford, whose book Devil in the Milk reignited interest in A2 milk, disagreed.

"The high payout will not influence farmers' willingness to change. Farmers know that the current high prices will not last forever," he said.

"If they think that going to A2 positions them better for the future, then they will start making the change and do so rapidly."

Fonterra said it was unable to comment on the issue yesterday.

Hamilton-based Ridge Brands, which has been distributing A2 milk in New Zealand, said the summer drought in the Waikato was responsible for the supply drying up.

Chief executive John Morgan said the growing demand for A2 milk had made it more difficult to keep existing customers stocked, let alone expand to new suppliers.

Demand for A2 milk trebled after the publication of Woodford's book in September last year, he said.

"We are still in that situation. More supermarkets want to take our milk but we can't supply it, even to existing supermarkets," he said.

"We're in discussions with some other farmers about whether we can actually get them to convert to A2."

A2 milk was available in Christchurch in the Merivale and Barrington Fresh Choice supermarkets, he said.

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- The Press

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