Why Donkey Milk Is So Expensive

Though oat milk may still have the spotlight, donkey milk has also enjoyed a rapidly rising market share in the last few years. Even before modern-day researchers began to explore its merits as both a beverage and ingredient in other products, its consumption was well documented throughout the centuries. Back around 400 B.C., Hippocrates is said to have prescribed donkey milk to help cure poisoning, fevers, and liver issues. As the legend goes, Empress Poppaea Sabina of Rome bathed in donkey milk and applied it to her cheeks to keep wrinkles at bay. Royals like Cleopatra VII did the same. As a baby, even Pope Francis drank donkey milk in lieu of breast milk.

As lauded as it is for its beauty and health benefits, donkey milk can be hard to come by, and if you're tempted to bathe in it, it's going to cost you a pretty penny. Donkey milk is one of the most expensive kinds of milk in the world. Each gallon can easily cost over $200 in the U.S.

Several factors, like limited production and the small number of donkey farms, contribute to donkey milk's hefty price. For this reason, it's often easier to get your hands on imported, powdered donkey milk rather than raw milk, as the latter is illegal to ship between U.S. states. Some farms allow customers to buy raw donkey milk straight from the source.

Donkey milk is tasty and loaded with nutrients

Per an International Dairy Journal report, donkey milk is similar to human milk in terms of health benefits, with roughly the same amount of protein and lactose content. This is why it is often used as an alternative to breast milk and is considered safe and nutritious for children and adults alike. The milk is palatable, with a sweet taste and a milky scent. Rich in calcium, donkey milk contains more than double the vitamin D as cow's milk, Healthline reports. Though anyone can enjoy its benefits, donkey milk may be most suitable for those with sensitivities to other dairy milks, as it has a low casein content. Moreover, a family farm in Oklahoma began producing donkey milk to successfully treat their daughter's autoimmune illness, and its testimonials page is filled with families sharing similar stories.

Since donkey milk is so rare and expensive, it's no surprise that it's used to make the most expensive cheese in the world, pule. With a crumbly white texture, donkey milk cheese has a similar flavor profile as Spanish manchego. It can cost anywhere between $600 to $1,000 per pound.