The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation has tipped camel dairy products as the ‘next big thing’ but says that production, manufacturing and marketing challenges must first be overcome.

Camel’s milk is a sought-after commodity from the Western Sahara to Mongolia, where the FAO says demand outstrips supply. Modern farming and production techniques have rarely been applied to camel rearing and young camels consume much of the 5.4m tonnes produced annually.

The FAO is attempting to encourage financing from donors and investors to develop the sector at a local level and help camel milk move into more lucrative markets in the Middle East and the West.

“The potential is massive,” says FAO’s Dairy and Meat expert Anthony Bennett. “Milk is money”.

Indeed, an Austrian chocolate maker has already formed a partnership with a camel farm based in the United Arab Emirates.

Vienna-based Chocolatier Hochleitner spent six months developing chocolate made from milk from the Al Ain Camel Farm and Dairy. A spokesperson for the company told just-food that camel’s milk was a good alternative to cow’s milk because it was sweeter and lower in fat.

Although the first batch of the new treat was developed and manufactured in Austria there are plans to build a production plant capable of producing 50 tonnes of chocolate a month in the UAE.