Interview with Mr. Atakan Koç, a professor at Adnan Menderes University
- What do you expect of participating at World agriculture salon and are your expectation met?
In addition to introducing the camel, an exotic animal, to people live in Europe, it was aimed to attract the attention of Europeans and visitors from outside Europe to camel milk projects and camel products. The camel, known as a desert animal and the area where it is grown day by day, is now at the gates of Europe, and even camel farms have begun to be established in Europe, including France. For the European, this means that the camel has ceased to be an animal kept in zoos and has become an animal raised within the scope of agricultural activity. In the following years, it means seeing, buying and consuming camel products, camel milk and camel milk products in some markets in Europe. In this sense, the interest shown by the visitors has been more than met my expectations in terms of the fact that the camel will cease to be an animal that is seen in the deserts for Europeans in the future, and will become an animal that we can easily go and see in the places we live in and taste its products.
- What is the current perception of camel milk by consumers and can we expect it to change in 5 years?
At first, the consumers who came to the fair did not even think that the camel, known as the “ship of the desert”, would become a milk-producing animal for humans. However, when they saw the camels and then saw the camel milk offered, they were both surprised and curious and tasted the offered camel milk. They considered the occasional beverage as a milk rather than an alternative to cow’s milk. On the other hand, the approach of the people of North African, Asian and Middle Eastern origin to camel, camel milk and its taste is more familiar and in the way that it will be a panacea. If they see camel milk and its products in some grocery stores, where exotic products are sold, it will be easier for them to taste and adopt, along with various advertising campaigns.
- What are the consumer feedbacks after testing the camel milk?
While some of them find its taste different depending on their own taste as a habit, the majority of them stated that they liked the taste. The surprise of those who learned the price increased even more. Talks about the fact that it is a milk that people with lactose intolerance can easily consume, and that it treats or supports the treatment of various diseases that need scientific proof, have further increased the interest and respect for camel milk.
- What are the advantages and obstacles of camel milk consumption?
While the scarcity of camel milk is considered an advantage, it can be considered as a disadvantage that it cannot be found everywhere at any time. While the experience that camel milk is good for many diseases increases the interest in camel milk, the fact that it is considered as a functional food by some segments is another advantageous side. The most important disadvantage of camel milk is that it has a high price and, from the European point of view, it is a continent where traditionally camel breeding is not done, so it may cause a cautious approach to camel products. However, it will be much easier for people to adopt camel milk and its products in a country or region that has historically had a culture of camel breeding. On the other hand, people who came from countries in North Africa, the Middle East and Asia and settled in Europe create an important potential in this regard.
- How would you describe present state of camel breeding in Europe?
Historically, Europe was not a camel-breeding continent, with the exception of the Canary Islands. It means that Europeans are foreign to camel breeding culture and camel products. Due to the relations of some countries such as France and Spain with North African countries, many joint project studies may have been carried out on camel breeding, diseases and products. However, raising camels, especially adapted to the African Deserts, in Europe will allow the camels to be fed better, but this will cause problems such as difficulties in adaptation to the temperate climate and various diseases. With the increase in the number of camel farms in Europe, camel breeding, feeding and diseases will cause more specialists to be needed, while the increase in camel farms will enable camel products, especially camel milk, to be processed and presented to the wider market.
- Do you think camels are a new player in the European agricultural landscape?
Yes, it is a new role player in European agriculture, but not so many in Europe. This causes the widespread influence of this new player to be low. CAMELMILK Project has started to have an important role in this role, because the camel, which is mostly raised for tourism or recreational purposes in Europe, has also started to be used in milk production. Human adoption of camel milk’s purported benefits against a variety of diseases such as diabetes, autism, asthma and even cancer will significantly affect the role that camel will play worldwide, not in Europe alone.