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NZ dairy goat industry initiates 'world first' research into goat infant formula

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New Zealand’s dairy goat industry is initiating world leading research to generate scientific evidence around consumption of goat’s milk infant formula delivered through sustainable farm systems.

The research is one outcome of Caprine Innovations NZ (CAPRINZ), a 5-year $29.65 million partnership between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Dairy Goat Co-operative Ltd (DGC), launched in August 2018.

CAPRINZ, through clinical trials and on-farm research, aims to build a portfolio of reliable science-based information about goat milk infant formula products that health professionals can access information when advising clients or patients on feeding options when exclusive breast-feeding is not feasible.

DGC CEO David Hemara said achieving these outcomes will be a result of intensive international consumer research, on-farm studies to better understand the environmental footprint and clinical research to a level which has never been done on goat milk products before.

"End goals include providing information based on sound science around goat milk formula, growing research and farming capability and increasing export revenue across the New Zealand dairy goat milk industry to $400 million per annum by 2023," David Hemara said.

"In concert with the economic benefits, CAPRINZ also aims to create more than 400 new jobs on-farm, double the size of the country’s milking goat herd to around 100,000 while improving dairy goat farming practice and sustainable production and boosting capability across the industry."

The clinical research work will complement multi-year focus groups DGC has held around the world canvassing the views and concerns of parents, caregivers, paediatricians and health practitioners.

David Hemara said DGC is "working with an international board of paediatricians who provide invaluable insight into the type of research their members and audiences need to validate perceptions about goat milk infant formula.

"At home, the CAPRINZ programme has been a catalyst for extending our science capabilities with the creation of new positions.

"We have always been strong in research to understand the unique properties of goat milk and had previously conducted clinical trials to research the functional differences of goat milk for infants and young children. However, until this partnership, we had not been able to combine both fields of study. The CAPRINZ partnership has enabled us to expand our capacity so we can undertake more pre-clinical and clinical research which we hope will add valuable data to the body of scientific knowledge and deliver benefits to the industry and the economy.

"Our on-farm research will focus on the development of practical tools to build capability and support the sustainable and environmentally balanced growth of the industry," David Hemara said.

The DGC science and on-farm research teams have recently been complemented by the appointment of two scientists with significant knowledge and expertise on an international scale -

Senior Scientist Dr Sophie Gallier completed her PhD at the University of Otago followed by postdoctoral and scientist positions in New Zealand and the Netherlands in dairy science and paediatric nutrition. More recently she held a senior scientist position in New Zealand in maternal and paediatric nutrition with a focus on brain and cognitive development in early life.

Dr Sally-Anne Turner has been appointed Science Leader Farm Research after more than 20 years in the bovine industry researching the production of key milk components in milk, and how the farm system can be maximized to improve production.

The need to increase engagement with health professionals around the world has also seen Jordyn May appointed as Assistant Medical Marketing Manager. Previously a product development technologist with DGC, Jordyn has degrees in food science and marketing.

David Hemara said the CAPRINZ partnership has enabled a unique research programme which will deliver knowledge and confidence to health professionals around the world, growing demand for New Zealand produced goat milk infant formula.

"The programme will also have a practical and valuable impact on-farm with new knowledge, competencies and consistency in an industry which is in growth mode," he said.

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