It's About Time We All Paid More Attention to Carabao Milk
Happy Carabao would be a good start.
(SPOT.ph) Part of today’s food culture is a thrust towards local. We celebrate what is ours by focusing on what’s fresh, seasonal, and part of our heritage. And while many groups and individuals have been doing a great job of exposing heirloom crops and heritage breeds to the consumers, sometimes some of the things we overlook is right under our noses.
The carabao, for example, is a ubiquitous part of Philippine rural life as a steady companion in tilling the fields. Richard Cavosora is trying to make the water buffalo an important part of the urban Filipino’s lifestyle via Happy Carabao, which sells carabao milk and cheese.
Cavosora has the interesting and challenging job of marketing carabao dairy products, mostly from Magdalena, Laguna—something he has been working on since 2014. He works closely with the Philippine Carabao Center and their partner farmers, connecting them with clients in Manila who are on the lookout for quality carabao dairy. "[We decided to] start with institutional clients. I chose specific restaurants that had a big enough consumer base and specially those who really want to work from the framework of farm to table," Cavosora says.
Some of his clients include Gino's Brick Oven Pizza and Papa Diddi's Ice Cream. There are long-term plans of exporting carabao milk to countries like Japan, where they are guaranteed to fetch high prices as premium products.
Happy Carabao has also expanded into retail, offering artisanal carabao dairy products that go beyond the typical bottle of milk. Products include butter, heavy cream, condensed milk, low fat chocolate milk with sugar, and of course, kesong puti. “There’s a sweetness and a certain thickness to carabao milk because of the fat content,” Cavosora explains.
The Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) is serious about educating the public on the benefits of carabao milk—which has almost double the vitamins, nutrients, and fat content of cow's milk—and in bringing local milk up to international standards. “We train them [on things like] animal production, animal health, good milking practices, [and] milk quality," says Dr. Thelma Saludes, Sr. Science Research Specialist and Officer in Charge of PCC, Los Baños. “We monitor them often...We don’t accept [milk] if it is not up to our standards.”
The endeavor is not without its challenges. “The sad part is millennial consumers are not familiar with white cheese. Some people would know pan de sal and kesong puti, but most don’t,” Cavosora says.
Cavosora is adamant about selling carabao dairy as a premium product. “We really want to stress that carabao dairy products as premium ones worth the higher price point,” he says. Who knew that a source of income and nutrition could be found in literally a farmer’s backyard?
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