Consumers will this week get their first taste of the collaboration between Fonterra and the a2 Milk Company with the launch of a jointly branded a1-beta free milk in North Island stores.

The launch, through Fonterra's Anchor brand, is the first public sign of co-operation between Fonterra and the a2 Milk Company after they announced a strategic relationship in February linking Fonterra's global milk pool and supply chain, manufacturing capability and in-market sales and distribution capacity with a2 Milk's brand.

Fonterra Brands New Zealand's acting sales director Grant Watson said the move would offer consumers more choice.

Anchor already has 10 varieties of milks and will continue catering to a variety of diets, ages and stages, Watson said.

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Most cows carry both A1 and A2 proteins but the a2 Milk Company specialises in a1 beta free milk from specially selected cows, which it says carry health benefits for those people who have trouble drinking regular milk.

"The a2 Milk Company is delighted to be entering into this partnership with Fonterra, and pleased to be finally providing our a2 Milk brand to New Zealanders for the first time," a2 Milk managing director and chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka said in a statement.

The companies said the jointly branded milk would be available in light-proof bottles in Pak 'n Save and New World North Island stores this week.

Full national distribution of a2 Milk can be expected from October. - Staff Reporter