Rich in protein and with double the fat content of cow’s milk, Pāmu deer milk is proving its worth across sectors.

Nestled deep in the South Island, deer roam the pastures of Peter and Sharon McIntyre’s fifth-generation family farm.

These deer are a key part of producing Pāmu’s unique award-winning value-added premium product.

“Our industry foray was into food service, selling it to chefs to see if consumers would actually purchase it, because it’s such a new product. It’s a world first,” says Pāmu’s deer milk business lead Hamish Glendinning.

The milk was received well and chefs in New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong have used the product.

“It’s giving them a new ingredient to work with which doesn’t come around that often so it’s really driving innovation in their kitchens and attracting customers.”

The product is also being used in cosmetics after a milking technician found her hands had become soft and her nails strong, as a result of cleaning the milking equipment.

Mr Glendinning says Pāmu is now looking at opportunities in the nutraceutical industry as in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers seek out products with a focus on health.

“In terms of nutraceuticals, globally there is phenomenal growth rates. Products related to health and well-being, particularly immunity is of real interest, which deer milk plays quite nicely into.”

Currently all Pāmu’s deer milk is sourced from the McIntyre’s farm where the deer are grass-fed and live in a natural outdoor environment.

For the company, deer milk represents an opportunity to produce a high-value, low-impact product.

“Sustainability is something we take really seriously,” says Glendinning. “[Deer milk is] massively value-added. We’re looking for value not volume here.”

As the market for deer milk is fairly recent, there hasn’t been the same investment into research as there has been with bovine and even sheep milk, but together Pāmu and research partners are working to remedy that.

“We have a whole heap of work going into the research space which is really interesting,” says Glendinning.

“We are essentially trying to build data on a brand new product. From the initial findings, there’s definitely some really interesting properties and possible applications in the health and nutrition space. That’s what’s really exciting.”