“There are so many people that have tried non-dairy, the imitation if you will, with imitation flavors and taste and smell, and they want real dairy. And goat provides that, but it doesn’t have the casein issues or the digestibility issues that come with cow milk,” Tim Millson, ‘mayor’ of Epic Source Foods which makes Funny Farm branded goat milk products, said at FoodNavigator-USA’s Food Vision USA conference in Chicago last week.
Unlike cow's milk which has A1- and A2-beta casein, goat milk does not have A1-beta casein, which can cause stomach discomfort in some consumers.
Recognizing that many consumers are “very hungry” and “anxious” for goat-milk products that will allow them to enjoy dairy without the repercussions they experience with cow’s milk, Epic Source Foods has “launched quickly and launched hard in a lot of stores” with its new line-up of goat-milk based CPGs, which include frozen pizza, mac & cheese, popcorn and hard cheese.
Minimizing the goat in goat milk
As one of three winners in Food Vision USA’s 2017 Trailblazer’s competition, Millson explained to conference attendees and a panel of branding experts that his new line of products also stands apart from other goat milk options because they don’t taste “goaty.”
“We tied a few tags to [the products], one of which being ‘We take the goat out of goat milk,’ because it seems that the only problem that people had with goat milk is the relate it to a bad goat cheese experience that they had years ago, and the only exposure most people have to goat milk products are at a party with a glass of red wine to wash it down,” he said.
“So, by taking the tagline that we take the goat out of goat milk and that we don’t have those goaty flavors – people really understand what we are talking about and it has brought a lot of people to try a lot of products. And they are really shocked to find we don’t have any of those flavors,” he said, adding, “We mimic cow, and we can ask people to tell which is cow and which is goat and they can’t.”
Millson said Epic Source Foods is able to soften the sometimes off-putting flavor notes of goat dairy by holding its farms to a higher animal welfare standard.
“All of the goats are able to come in and go out as they please, if you will, because of that they put out a really nice tasting milk. Goats stress very easily and when you are inside and in a packed house with thousands of other little goats beside you – it is a stressful environment and the goat milk is very sensitive and it shows those twangy flavors,” he said.
In addition, he only feeds his goats grass and alfalfa to reduce the risk of off-flavors.
“If they go to the neighbors pasture and eat all his weeds as a favor to him, well … junk in, junk out,” he said.
More product development on the horizon
While rolling out frozen pizzas, boxed mac & cheese, a variety of hard cheese made from goat milk and a line of ready-to-eat popcorn in rapid succession sounds like a lot to handle, Millson is ready to take on even more with additional new product launches on the horizon.
He explained Funny Farm is working on a shelf stable goat milk in aseptic containers that can last one or two years so that goat milk, which is still relatively difficult to find, “can be available anywhere.”
Other entrepreneurial brands that won Food Vision USA’s 2017 Trailblazer competition and presented at the conference include Hargol FoodTech, which is bringing edible grasshoppers to market, and The Chaat Company, which is introducing Indian street snacks to a US audience.