I am very aware that writing this post is likely to stir up a fair bit of discussion, as there has been a lot of controversy surrounding this particular topic.
Having been part of the allergy world for a number of years now, first as an allergy parent, and then more recently as an allergy business owner, I have heard differing opinions regarding a company called a2 Milk.
What is it?
a2 Milk was initially launched in Australia, and has been available in their supermarkets since 2003. It came to the UK in 2012 and is sold in a number of large retail outlets across the country. Milk contains A1 and A2 proteins, among others. Their products focus on the A2 protein, and it is believed that by not containing A1 protein it can make the milk easier to digest, and reduce the bloated feeling some people get.
They are very clear to tell people that their products are NOT suitable for dairy allergy, lactose intolerance or galactosaemia! In fact, they have a disclaimer on everything they produce, including handouts, and will ensure any conversations include some form of reference to this as well.
It is not a product I could ever give to Callum due to his allergies, that I must make absolutely clear!
A couple of weeks ago I was invited by their PR team to attend a private event in the SAID café in London.
I’ll be honest, I was wary and also dubious, after hearing tales about their ‘quackery’ product, and how they were marketing it in such a way that it was dangerous for CMPA sufferers. Equally, why would someone such as myself who is quite clearly marketing her business towards the allergy world be interested in an event such as this?
But, I like to make up my own mind on things, so decided to go along to the event and see what all the fuss was about.
I was greeted on the door by Louise, part of their PR team, who signed me in and explained about the products they had at the venue, and the treats they’d prepared for attendees. They certainly put a lot of thought into it. Double Choc Belgian Hot Choc, a variety of smoothies, all the coffee options you’d expect to find in a good café, and also some baked goods.
Every one of these products were made by/ contained a2 Milk.
There were also little a2 branded soft toys dotted about the place. A cute little extra that made for a conversation starter.
The audience was a mixture of industry insiders, bloggers, parents with an interest for their children, and also allergy business owners such as myself. I’d say around 25 or so of us were there.
In addition, they had their registered Nutritionist Mel on hand. She has a number of years’ experience within the NHS, and has worked with a2 Milk for 3 years to ensure they are accurate in their claims.
She presented the key reasons behind their product, what the purpose of producing milk without the A1 protein was, and why – always being very careful to ensure they never used the word allergy!
I was watching like a hawk, making notes of everything, and was ready to jump in if she had done!
Once Mel had finished her presentation, she invited Danny Cipriani, their brand ambassador to join her for a live Q&A session.
Danny explained that he had suffered since childhood with an underlying sense that he wasn’t always feeling 100% when consuming milk, so removed it from his diet and used almond/ soya/ oat milk instead.
It is only recently, when his sports training began to suffer, that he had tests done, to try to determine the cause of what was affecting his training. At the same time, he was living in Australia for his training programme, and saw a2 Milk and decided to give it a try.
Interestingly, his previous symptoms of bloating, lethargy and bad digestion didn’t return when consuming the a2 Milk.
I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. They are most definitely NOT marketing their product towards the allergy market in any way. They are providing a product that does seem to benefit people who struggle to digest what we classify as ‘normal’ milk.
Where do they fit in within the food market? It’s a tough one! They can’t be classified as a ‘free from’ product, because they’re not! End of!
Equally, they shouldn’t be lumped with the ‘normal’ milks. If anything, they seem to be carving out their own market.
If we were to judge, and say they shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing, because of ‘quackery’ or due to them misleading the market, then, perhaps we should be saying the same about flavoured waters that are available for us to buy. Technically they are essentially doing the same thing. We don’t need flavoured water, enriched with vitamin d, or calcium, or whatever antioxidant the latest company has come up with, but it’s a nice option for us to have!
As long as a2 Milk continue to be very clear in their stance that they are NOT suitable for dairy allergy/ CMPA, lactose intolerance and galactosaemia, then really, we shouldn’t have any beef with them!