LOS ANGELES: When it comes to drinking milk, most Americans only think of cows.
But a company run by a young Saudi entrepreneur has been trying to change habits after introducing camel milk to the US market.
Walid Abdul-Wahab, who runs a company called Desert Farms, was brought up in Jeddah but moved to Los Angeles in 2008 to study at the University of Southern California.
It was there he had the idea to introduce camel milk as an alternative dairy product to health-conscious customers.
“I wanted to bring something positive from back home where I’m from: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia,” Abdul-Wahab said. “I decided to introduce a new kind of breed of milk that is almost 10 times better than cow’s and goat’s milk and actually the closest milk to human breast milk.”
Abdul-Wahab set up partnerships with family farms rearing camels across the US to produce the milk domestically.
He is confident his hard work over the years means his business can ride through the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Whenever you’re dealing with food and your business is fully online, and you actually own your own customers, meaning that you have direct relationships, you know who’s buying, you know where they’re from, it’s very difficult for a business like that to be affected by any sort of recession,” he said.
Abdul-Wahab said his company sells on Amazon and through the Desert Farms website as well as in regular retail stores.
Along with health conscious customers, another market is selling the milk to Muslims, particularly during Ramadan.
Although mosques are closed in the US this Ramadan, Abdul-Wahab is working to ensure that Desert Farms can provide milk to Muslims observing the holy month during the shutdown.
As a young entrepreneur, he said he believes challenging times like these are when the best business ideas flourish.
“We’re not in a true recession but it does have a lot of similar traits and I do strongly believe that some of the best ideas are gonna come out during this time,” Abdul-Wahab said.
He encouraged businesspeople in the Arab world who want to start companies in the US to go for it. “It's honestly the easiest country in the world to start any business you want,” he said.
On top of his business, Abdul-Wahab is trying to make sure his family stays fit and focused during the pandemic lockdown.
“Me and my kids are always extremely active,” Abdul-Wahab said. “We definitely keep a distance from everyone as much as possible, but that doesn’t mean we don’t go out. I take my kids to the park almost on a daily basis, and we just continue doing sports.”