Californians are buying up the alternative to cow’s milk despite camels being the source of MERS.
A Saudi student has established the first camel milk company in the US, despite the animal being blamed for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Desert Farm so far has sold $100,000 worth of camel milk in California as it promotes the product’s nutritional benefits over cow’s milk – 50 percent less fat and 40 fewer calories per cup.
Walid Abdulwahab, 23, reportedly set up the company as part of a class project at the University of Southern California following a trip home to Saudi Arabia, where camel’s milk has long been a traditional drink.
The product has been doing well in the US despite health experts believing camels are the source of MERS, which has infected about 600 people in 22 countries and killed nearly one-third of those infected.
"Camel milk has been used for centuries in the Middle East by nomads and Bedouins, and they swore by it," Abdulwahab was quoted as saying.
"That's why people have faith in it, it's a historical product."
Camel milk also has become a lucrative business in the Gulf, with the UAE sending the first exports to Europe last year and a conglomerate of Dubai-based businesses creating various products, particularly chocolate, based on the milk.
However, camel’s milk is far more expensive than cow’s due to the lower production per animal - camels give an average of seven litres per day, compare to 25 litres from a cow, according to Camelicious, which produces camel’s milk chocolate in the UAE.