Karaganda plant produces organic mare’s milk powder, plans exports

ASTANA – Raw mare’s milk, the traditional drink of nomads, is gaining popularity with consumers in powdered form. To take advantage of the organic trend, a Karaganda region-based plant is using advanced technologies to revive the saumal (raw mare’s milk) obtained through the sublimation process and produce products with the Saumal registered trademark. The facility has 1,300 mares and a production volume of 25 tonnes per year.

Saumal company head Nurlan Nishanov

Saumal company head Nurlan Nishanov

“German-made freeze drying equipment helps to preserve all the beneficial properties of milk. A vacuum dryer converts the milk into milk powder and preserves 95-98 percent of the qualities of raw milk. The finished powder is packaged in a multi-layer vacuum package made of aluminium foil. The product can be stored for a long time,” said company head Nurlan Nishanov in a Nov. 28 interview.

The product is reconstituted by stirring three tablespoons of powder into a glass of warm water in a 1:9 ratio. The drink has a pleasant natural flavour. It is sold in 500-gram containers for 30,000 tenge (US$91) and 10-sachet packages (20 grams each) for 15,000 tenge (US$45).

Mare’s milk prevents digestive system diseases, relieves pain, increases the number of beneficial bacteria, normalises microflora and significantly reduces the symptoms of skin diseases.

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“This is a new category of products in Eurasia. People know more about kumys (mare’s milk drink). Saumal is a seasonal product, available only in the summer, but our product is available all year round. Now there’s a great variety of superfoods and dietary supplements on the market, but our product is much more beneficial. With no advertising campaigns, our product is in demand in China’s market,” said Nishanov.

“Many customers buy our products and send them abroad to family members. We are currently negotiating for supplies to China, Europe and Russia,” he added.

The company was founded with the support of KazAgroFinance. The leasing company provided one billion tenge (US$3 million) in financing, with 400 million tenge (US$1.2 million) invested by the owners. The total cost of the project exceeded 1.4 billion tenge (US$4 million).

The story behind the project is an interesting one. Rudolf Storch, a prisoner in a Soviet camp suffering with tuberculosis, was treated by a local resident with mare’s milk. It helped him get on his feet again. Following his recovery, Storch moved to Germany, where he started the first mare’s milk production in Europe. His son-in-law, Hans Zollmann, continued his successful dairy horse breeding and dry mare’s milk business.

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The local company cooperates with Zollmann, the producer-technologist and owner of Kurgestüt Hoher Odenwald, the largest German mare farm. The expert who was responsible for installing and adjusting the equipment and training personnel now serves as a consultant.

The product received a declaration of compliance certificate within the Customs Union requirements. The international document provides the right to sell it both in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and abroad.

The company also offers tours around its horse farm, acquainting guests with the plant, laboratory and process of making milk powder.

“We expect to launch child nutrition production next year. We have formulas developed by the Russian Academy of Child Nutrition. The process of packaging development and certification is underway,” said Nishanov.