Selling Breast Milk. A Brilliant Business Model

selling-breast-milk-brilliant-businessOn my blog’s homepage I make it clear that anything is fair-game when it comes to my blog. I’ll write about anything that interests me and makes me stop and think. This post is business-related so it’s not completely out to lunch – ahem, so to speak.

The great article Liquid Gold: The Booming Market for Human Breast Milk by Judy Dutton (featured in Wired magazine) was a very interesting read. As it turns out, human breast milk is ounce-for-ounce one of the most expensive liquids available for sale. So much so, that many companies such as Prolacta are building significant business models around it.

Breast milk has numerous health benefits – people have known that for years – but now, research has shed additional light on the white “magic” liquid. Breast milk is now believed to improve the lifelong immune system, increase IQ, reduce infection and allow infants to grow up to be the best that they can be. What this means for mother’s that cannot nurse is they are missing out on nutritional benefits for their children, and for those with extra milk to spare: it means cash in the bank.

This reality has caused a number of markets to emerge to sell breast milk. In Europe, a mother can sell directly to other mother’s online. Independent mother’s make extra income and prices are usually cheaper than wanting mother’s would have to pay from a milk bank (yes, like sperm banks, breast milk bank’s exist too).

These systems are win-win. Wanting mother’s get what they need to feed their children the best that they can and nursing mother’s make some extra money on the side. There are concerns over the safety of online bodily fluid transactions, but so far there have been no reports of any issues. Naturally, the “professionals” are divided on whether or not these systems are beneficial. Some say “nay”, the dangers outweigh the risks, while others believe it is brilliant.

Companies like Prolacta, however, are competing with these private online sales. They instead perform nation-wide campaigns to encourage women to donate and, in return, sell this milk to hospitals for a tidy profit. Private companies like Prolacta are now heating up the market for breast milk. It is now currently a battle to obtain the precious liquid before mother’s start selling it themselves and take their profits off the table.

What do you think about selling breast milk? Is it wrong? Dangerous, perhaps? Most importantly, if you had a child and it could not be nursed naturally, would you think about it? Or strip your child of the benefits of arguably the most beneficial diet available?

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