New Zealanders prefer the taste of milk with permeate in because they don't know any different, a consumer advocate says.
The Herald yesterday put 10 people through a blind taste test of two different dark-blue-top milks - one was the Anchor brand which re-adds permeate, a natural byproduct from the ultrafiltration process, to its product.
The other was from Green Valley which does not use the controversial permeate that caused consumer backlash in Australia following concerns that dairy suppliers were "watering down" their milk.
Seven of the 10 preferred the Anchor milk, two chose Green Valley's and one couldn't decide which he liked better.
Without knowing which was which, Kailash Sharma, 28, said he preferred the Anchor milk.
"It doesn't have as strong an after-taste [as] the other one," he said.
Another person said the Anchor blue-top tasted "a lot more like milk" while the Green Valley milk was "too creamy" and that you couldn't use it with cereal.
However, the difference in taste between the two products was enough for Chad Carter to swear off Anchor - which he said did not have enough flavour - for the rest of his life.
"[The permeate-free] is just more real," he said.
Author Wendyl Nissen said she had similar reactions in her household when she swapped to permeate-free milk.
"The common complaint is that it's too creamy but that's what real milk tastes like and I think we've lost touch [with] that."
Nissen said that despite people's preference, the point was that Anchor and Goodman Fielder refused to say how much permeate they re-added into their product.
"It's the messing around with food. We need openness and honesty and we need to know what's in it," she said.
Both Fonterra, which owns the Anchor brand, and Goodman Fielder, which which owns Meadow Fresh, and Cow and Gate, refused to say how much permeate - a watery natural high-lactose waste product created by the ultrafiltration process of dairy products - they re-added to their milk.