Many Australians opting for A2 milk are paying more than double the price without necessarily reaping any added health benefit.
A2 milk is becoming increasingly popular among Australian consumers, with the A2 Milk Company more than doubling its annual profit – a 116 per cent jump to $177.9 million.
But, often priced at a premium, do these products offer any health benefit?
What is A2 milk?
Most regular cows produce milk containing a combination of A1 and A2 proteins.
Some cows only produce milk containing A2 proteins and the resulting product is known as A2 milk.
These proteins are almost identical, differing by just one amino acid.
Some research has found that A1 milk can cause stomach discomfort or digestive issues for some people.
A2 milk has the same amount of lactose – a naturally occurring sugar – that is found in standard milk.
Is it any healthier than standard milk?
If you have no issues with digesting regular milk, you could be paying double the price for no real benefit.
More than 20 per cent of Australians are looking for alternatives to regular cow milk, according to obesity expert Dr Nick Fuller of the University of Sydney.
In supermarkets, consumers are presented with an aisle filled with a range of milk varieties including soy milk, rice milk, oat milk, coconut milk and almond milk.
“A type of milk is marketed for every lifestyle,” Dr Fuller said.
“But, just like all the milk alternatives to regular cow’s milk, much of the A2 product’s success often comes down to how well it is marketed, not due to what the research shows or any better health benefits associated with drinking it.
There is no nutritional difference between the products, but A2 milk will cost you double the price.
Aside from the added expense to the weekly grocery budget, there are no concerns in drinking A2 milk, he said.
“If you can afford it and prefer it, then great, but there is no reason you need to be opting for it.”
A2 milk typically costs double the price – about $4 or more for two litres – compared to regular milk.
Professor Terry Bolin, gastroenterologist and president of The Gut Foundation, said he has seen no substantial evidence to support health benefits from drinking A2 milk.
“I think the whole A1 versus A2 milk debate is a bit overblown,” he said.
“About 6 per cent of people are lactose intolerant and another 10 per cent report feeling intestinal discomfort or bloating after drinking milk.
“I think a more logical explanation would be that this reaction is triggered by the fat content of milk.”
How to avoid feeling bloated after drinking milk
Dr Fuller advised those who suffer stomach side effects, such as diarrhoea and bloating, to drink lactose-free milk.
“Lactose-free milk is a suitable option for those who are lactose intolerant as the lactase sugar has been removed, allowing one to enjoy the product symptom-free,” he said.
“Nutritionally, it is the same as regular cow’s milk, but not as expensive as A2 milk.”
While some studies have linked consumption of regular milk to chronic disease such as type 1 diabetes, an increased risk of heart disease and digestive problems, the European Food Safety Authority found insufficient evidence to support claims of any such relationship.