Test-tube 'milk' claim not scaring dairy head

The prospect of a breakthrough in a test-tube product said to be like milk has not got New Zealand farmers shivering in their Red Bands just yet.

Federated Farmers Dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard said milk was much, much more than collecting up the constituent parts and running it through an industrial process as if it was cola.

''Proving nothing is new, 102 years ago the New York Times reported: `No Need For Cows Now', when German scientists created a synthetic milk-like product using vegetable matter,'' he said.

''You cannot beat the real thing proven by millions of years of mammalian evolution.

''It doesn't send a shiver down to my Red Bands just yet.''

He was commenting about research and development company Muufri, which at its lab in Ireland, was developing ''milk'', which was almost indistinguishable from cows' milk, from genetically-altered yeast.

He said it would have the same proteins, sugars, fats, vitamins and minerals and taste, but without the cholesterol and allergen lactose of cows' milk, meaning it would be healthier and not need to be refrigerated.

Muufri hoped to have it ready for tasting in September.