When passing through the cloudy Kanyam tea gardens in the Ilam district of eastern Nepal, bunches of hard cheese are seen hanging in most stores.
Hard cheese, known locally as chhurpi, is made from milk from naks (female yaks), cows and chauris (crossing of yaks and cows from the hills). It is an excellent source of protein, and people in the Himalayan region, such as Tibet, Darjeeling and Sikkim, and Bhutan, love this hard cheese.
However, chhurpi is now a favorite food for dogs in the United States and Europe:
Yeti Dog Chew is an all natural and delicious dog chew made with the goodness of Himalayan yak milk.These are a perfect option to keep your dog happy and busy for longer hours in a safe & natural way.Check out our website to see different sizes of chews available for your dogs ? pic.twitter.com/RvVy2pffZl
– Yeti Dog Chew (@YetiDogChew) August 16, 2019
Yeti Dog Chew is a natural and delicious food for dogs made with the benefits of Himalayas yak milk. They are a perfect option to keep your dog happy and busy for hours in a safe and natural way. Check our website to see different sizes available for your dog.
According to the Center for Trade and Export Promotion of the Government of Nepal, in fiscal year 2017-2018, the country exported more than 800 million Nepalese rupees (seven million dollars) from chhurpi. According to local businessmen, about 60 to 70% of chhurpi exported as dog food to the United States and Europe is produced in the district of Ilam.
Most varieties of cheese tend to be soft, how do they harden this cheese? After harvesting, the milk is boiled and the fat is removed. Then. The solids are separated from the milk, wrapped in a jute bag to squeeze out the excess water from the chhurpi, and put in the sun to dry or hang over fire.
Godawari International Private Limited, which exports chhurpi as dog food to India, Japan, Taiwan, Canada and the United States, explains the rigorous manufacturing process:
(…) Once the milk has cooled down, it is treated with 10 ml of lime juice and 10 mg salt for about 100 gallons of milk. The sour of the mild acid coagulates the milk and the salt speeds up the process. The solids are then separated using a burlap sac (sic), which is washed several times using warm water to remove the whey, and any hints of salt and lime juice.
The solids in the burlap sack are then subjected to squeezing for about 3 weeks when the cake obtained contains at most 5% moisture. The cakes are pressed using weights to remove the excess moisture.
The cake is then cut to size and prepared for cooking (sic) under the sun and smoke (d) for 2-3 months. (…)
(…) When the milk has cooled, it is treated with 10 ml of lemon juice and 10 mg of salt for about one hundred gallons of milk. Sour milk acid coagulates milk, salt speeds up the process. The solids are then separated with a burlap bag, which is washed several times with warm water to remove the whey from the milk and all other salt and lemon set.
The solids in the burlap bag are squeezed for three weeks, when the cake obtained contains at most 5% moisture. The cakes are pressed with weights to remove excess moisture.
Then the cake is cut to size, prepared to cook in the sun and smoked for two or three months. (…)
The idea of marketing chhurpis as canine food was from the Suman and Sujan Shrestha brothers who, along with Nishes Shrestha, started the Himalayan Dog Chew company in 2003. The idea grew when one of the brothers noticed that a dog was biting a chhurpi. In 2007, they launched their product at a pet fair in Bellingham, Washington. Since then, the company has made great progress: it is currently the largest exporter of cheese from the Himalayas outside Nepal, and employs more than 9,000 people. In 2015, these three Nepalese businessmen appeared on the popular American television program Shark Tank, although they already had sales of more than five million dollars a year.
Since then, many other companies have followed the initiative, but Himalayan Dog Chew has diversified and evolved from a company dedicated to a single product to a pet supply company. According to its website, the company is now proudly associated with a third generation dairy farm in the state of Washington, which produces four and a half million kilos of milk per month, and more than 56 million kilos per year, all for Himalayan. Pet Supply
As this hard cheese is exported to so many countries, including Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States, its manufacturing has become a constant source of income for rural farmers in Nepal.
However, to be afloat in the market, manufacturers and exporters need to make sure to continue with the reengineering and diversification of the product:
My little bean is losing a few teeth, partially because of @himalayanpet’S yak milk chew. Devastated that I gave her something that broke her teeth & caused her so much pain. So be aware that these chews are problematic at best and potentially dangerous, esp. for older dogs. pic.twitter.com/qlZ7e7F2hX
– Meg McMuffin ?☠️ (@siamesemeg) October 23, 2018
My little one is losing my teeth, partly because of the yak milk food from Himalayan Pet. I am dEvastated from having given him something that broke his teeth and caused him so much pain. So be careful with these foods that are problematic at best and potentially dangerous, especially for old dogs.
As for the warning of the company, the food can cause atoro, indigestion, obstruction and breakage of teeth, so constant supervision of dogs during consumption is recommended.