New Zealand dairy leader Fonterra says sales of its colostrum and Stolle milk have risen significantly in key Asian markets, following the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) earlier this year.
Stolle milk, obtained from cows which are immunised to induce the formation of antibodies in their milk, has seen a 50 per cent rise in sales in Taiwan, as consumers concentrate on boosting immunity levels to prevent disease.
Meanwhile sales of colostrum, taken from the first four milkings after calf birth from pasture-fed, non-immunised cows, are well above forecasted levels in China.
"The unfortunate outbreak of the SARS virus has boosted Chinese market demand for Fonterra's colostrum product by over five times forecasted figures," said Patrick Geals, Fonterra general manager of Health and Nutritional Solutions, part of the firm's new Growth Business unit.
Research has shown that colostrum may fight bacteria and viruses. It is also thought to stimulate tissue repair and cellular reproduction, taken by some in supplement form for anti-ageing.
"Chinese and Taiwanese consumers are drawn to natural remedies which they believe can thwart and cure diseases. They use colostrum and Stolle as preventative therapies," he explained.
Both products are manufactured into powder by Fonterra which plans to produce approximately 200 metric tonnes of colostrum and 500 tonnes of Stolle this season. The company is the world's largest dairy ingredients business.
Revenues at the Health and Nutritional Solutions unit, which develops novel bioactive dairy ingredients for immune health, infant nutrition, gastrointestinal health and sports products, are expected to exceed NZ$150 million (€77m) this financial year. The Fonterra group has an annual turnover of US$6.8 billion (€5.8bn).