After many years away from his hometown, Blake Waltrip returned to Glendale on Friday to promote a brand of milk that launched in Australia and is beginning to show up on shelves in California stores.
As chief executive of the U.S. division of the a2 Milk Co., Waltrip's goal is to expand awareness in the United States about the brand of milk made only with the A2 protein.
It's fitting that Waltrip returned to Glendale on Friday to tout the brand at the Americana at Brand with a 10-foot glass of milk and samples.
Decades ago, his grandfather delivered milk in Glendale, and his father often accompanied him on delivery routes before school.
As a boy, however, Waltrip moved to the Bay area when his father landed a job there, and Waltrip had not been in Glendale in years.
Friday's promotional event, like another one planned for today, was designed to raise awareness about the a2 Milk Co., which has entered California's market ahead of plans to go national.
While some cows contain two types of the beta-casein protein, A1 and A2, the a2 Milk Co. sources its milk from cows that naturally produce only the A2 protein.
A hair test determines whether cows make milk with only the A2 protein, he said. Some cows produce milk with only the A1 protein and others produce milk with a blend of both.
"About 25% of Americans self-diagnose as lactose intolerant," Waltrip said, adding that few people get tested by doctors. He pointed to research stating only about 4% to 5% of people are "truly" lactose intolerant.
"All the research we have done shows they are intolerant to the A1 protein, not to lactose," Waltrip said.
Many people who have had sensitivity to milk have found they can digest the kind made only with the A2 protein, he said..
"This is a product unlike I've seen in my career. A consumer can taste this product, and within a couple of hours, they know if it works for them or not. If you have a milk sensitivity, and that milk sensitivity is A1 protein, you're going to be able to drink our product. We hear it everyday from consumers," Waltrip said.