Innovative business opportunities from donkey milk
The members of a cooperative in Tuscany, cooperated with a university to investigate the possibility to produce cheese, yogurt and possibly cosmetics from donkey milk.
The members of the Extravaganti cooperative are mainly involved in tourism activities and they manage mountain lodges and camping areas. In 2011, its members decided to expand their activities by restructuring an old farm and starting a donkey-breeding business combined with milk production.
Donkey milk production is restrained by the short life-cycle of the product and its rapid deterioration. Finding a solution to this could represent the possibility to diversify production into innovative food products, possibly suitable for particular categories of consumers. Having cooperated already in the past with the University of Pisa on other projects, mainly related to environment and preservation of the biodiversity, the cooperative decided to investigate the possibility to produce cheese, yogurt and possibly cosmetics from donkey milk.
The cheese produced by combining goat and donkey milk had a significant success in the market. It is sold in local shops, restaurants and became an important source of income for the cooperative.
As for the yogurt, some issues were highlighted in its production. According to the results of the product testing, one type of yogurt produced was very much appreciated by customers. However, its production was too expensive and as a consequence its market price would have been expensive too.
Overall, the implementation of the project had positive effects for the cooperative. Cheese production ensured an additional source of income and increased the number of visitors due to dissemination activities related to the project.