Untapped opportunities for goat milk

Patrick Heens

ENS International B.V., Emmi Nutritional Solutions, a part of the Emmi Group, specializes in the production, global trade, and market development of goat and sheep dairy. At the production site in Etten-Leur, ENS has two dairy factories where only fresh goat milk and goat whey are processed into high-quality ingredients, such as (organic) full-fat and skimmed goat milk powder, goat whey protein concentrate (WPC), goat milk protein concentrate (MPC) and fresh goat cream. “Our products are used for the same applications as cow milk and more. Think baby food, yogurt, ice cream, adult instant powders, chocolate, goat cream cheese as well as petfood and health supplements and cosmetics, to name a few,” says commercial director Patrick Heens. They focus on the B2B market.


The company is actively developing. “We are exploring the application possibilities of goat milk and powder. Many people have a prejudice against goat milk. It reminds them of the strong taste and smell of French goat cheese. However, that idea is  outdated when it comes to our goat milk powder and ingredients. There is no disturbing odour or taste. Yes, goat milk has a slightly different taste than cow milk. People may need some time to get used to it. If you use the powder for ice cream, you can easily mask the taste. For example, in vanilla and mango/passionfruit ice cream.” 


Heens sees plenty of opportunities for goat milk. The product is more expensive than cow milk but comes with many health benefits. “People with a mild cow milk protein allergy often switch to goat milk alternatives, generally tolerating goat milk better. The same goes for people with lactose intolerance. Anecdotical data shows that many consumers who believe they are lactose intolerant, are actually somehow mildly allergic to A1 Beta Casein. The protein composition of goat milk is closer to human milk, containing standard much more of the A2 Beta casein protein. Containing mainly A2 Beta casein protein, the milk is easier to digest but also contains a more favourable fatty acid profile. The milk also contains plenty of vitamins and minerals.”

Baby food

Until a few years ago, goat milk powder was mainly used in baby food. China was an important market for ENS. “However, the market has collapsed. Reason: fewer babies are being born in China. There is inflation and high unemployment: a large percentage of young people are unemployed. Moreover, the government is promoting the consumption of local products.”

New Markets
The change in the Chinese market came faster than expected, leading to a stressful time for the company. “There are competitors who have had to close their business.” Despite this development, Heens remains positive. New markets for baby food are emerging, and the market in China may also pick up again. “Furthermore, we have the support of Emmi, they believe in our products. We are focusing on new markets, attending various international trade fairs this year, and investing more in marketing. We will let people taste our products and showcase what is possible by presenting the end products at the fairs. We are looking for potential partners. We work hard to increase the visibility of goat milk ingredients to the world.”

Animal Welfare
ENS, as the Emmi Group does in general, places a high value on animal welfare. “The farmers affiliated with us meet the requirements of the Kwali-Geit quality label. If our company grows and we need to find more suppliers in the future, we may have to look to Germany, France and Belgium. They will have to meet the same requirements. Sustainability is also an important theme. Consumers in general but even more specifically mothers, want to feed their children with sustainable products. In 2022, we put a new factory into operation, with a significant investment in sustainability.”

The prejudice regarding the taste of goat milk is a challenge for ENS, as is the higher price consumers must pay for the milk. Availability is also something that requires attention. “Goat milk used to be more seasonal than cow milk. That is also a significant reason why major players in baby food have not yet switched from cow milk to goat milk. Fortunately, the supply is becoming more consistent as we have long term contract with our goat farmers, while heavily investing in our goat milk ingredients production capacity.”

Knowledge Exchange
ENS has joined IFFI to exchange knowledge with other members, among other things. Knowledge and experiences regarding markets, partners, and applications. “When considering the membership, I involved the colleagues from Emmi Netherlands; I think it’s important that they are also enthusiastic. The inspiration sessions are also for them. The enthusiasm is there; there is a lot of interest in IFFI’s activities.”

Artificial Intelligence
The IFFI theme for this year is Artificial Intelligence. How does ENS use this new technology? “We don’t use it enough yet. We find it an interesting theme. Developments are happening rapidly. It’s important to keep up. Through the network, we hope to expand our knowledge of AI.”

More information: www.emminutritionals.com