It is a small revolution for producers and consumers of milk: from this weekend in Galicia and in October at the national level, cartons of the brand Deleite con leche A2 will appear on the shelves of the supermarkets of the main distribution chains. It is a natural protein, type A2 beta-casein, which is also found in breast milk. And it is much more digestive and healthy, which avoids gastric discomfort and intolerances that are often attributed to lactose. A pioneering product in Spain that represents a qualitative leap for consumers and an economic asset for farms: they will obtain better prices for their dairy products without changing either the feeding of the cows or their production techniques.
Producing type A1 milk, as occurs with the majority of the Spanish herd, or type A2 depends exclusively on the genetic background of the animals. Thousands of years ago, as a result of a genetic mutation caused by crossbreeds and other factors, a majority of cows began to produce milk with A1 beta-casein. This is the type of protein that, according to various studies, is the cause of digestive discomfort that has nothing to do with lactose intolerance.
A quarter of the population assures that milk is bad for them. But only in 5% of cases is it due to the glucose in milk. It is enough to carry out a simple and inexpensive DNA analysis on each cow to find out if it produces type A1 or A2 milk. And go on to select the herds to keep only the cows with genotype A2 and cross them with bulls of the same genetic characteristics in order to guarantee a milk production with exclusively beta-casein A2.
In that adventure, Leite Noso was launched four years ago, with all possible secrecy, a company that was created in 2016 by some thirty Galician farms in order to directly produce and market their milk in the main distribution chains, under the brands Deleite and Muuu. Its objective is to guarantee quality in production and fair prices to the supplier farms.
Following in the footsteps of the commitment to A2 milk in the markets of Australia, New Zealand, the United States or England, these associated Galician farmers set themselves the purpose of being the first in Spain to offer a product considered healthier for consumers and more profitable for producers. They secretly developed an R&D project, in collaboration with a Catalan university, a community where samples of the cattle were also sent to carry out genetic tests. It was important to keep the project secret. Neither the veterinarians knew why the cows were separated on the farms involved nor the reason for inseminating only genetically proven cattle.
Many Galician farms, among them the main ones in the sector that had been selling their milk to giants of the dairy industry such as Pascual for decades, enthusiastically joined the Galician A2 milk project. Since April 2020, Leite Noso has collected 300,000 liters daily in 70 farms in the provinces of A Coruña and Lugo, now practically all with A2 beta-casein. Its surprising and rapid expansion is also due to the three-year contracts, unique in the sector, that it signs with all the supplier farms, guaranteeing them stability and high prices.
A2 milk is an important business and economic opportunity for dairy farms, as they will charge five cents more per liter without increasing their production costs. An asset that will make farms more profitable, will increase the number of hired personnel and will improve the quality of life of those who dedicate themselves to this sector. It is an opportunity for the future also for rural Galicia. Nothing to do with lactose-free milk that the distribution markets much more expensive than normal, but without paying more to farmers.
The Delite A2A2 milk goes on the market with a starting price of 0.89 euros. There will be all variants (whole, semi-skimmed and skimmed) as well as a lactose-free version, whose proportion in milk is the same regardless of the type of beta-casein it contains. Leite Noso also brings out a typically Galician cheese with A2 milk. “It is natural, it comes from cows, without additives, it is not manufactured in any industry”, report the associated ranchers. And they highlight that the multinationals in the sector, “who are true monsters, dared to take the step.”