Modernisation of an organic cooperative dairy – Planika Dairy
- Datum objave 28.09.2021
We highlight an example of best practice which is relevant to the conservation of our environment, since this is an example when an organic dairy owned by a cooperative uses modern technology to help preserve rural areas, give jobs to locals, process local raw materials, and produce top innovative products from organically produced milk..
‟As an organic dairy, we are well aware that the environment must not be polluted with emissions and wanted to reduce the consumption of cleaning agents, water, time and energy, and provide maximum security for employees and the environment in which we live. The life and work of the Planika Dairy is extremely important for the Soča Valley, which is one of natural and tourist gems of Slovenia, since all farmers who live in this valley and have milking cows may bring all their milk to our dairy. This does not only ensure and preserve life in our villages but also ensures that the land is cultivated and the Soča Valley is beautiful and attractive for tourists. Our job at Planika is to purchase everything produced in this valley, process it well and sell it to our customers by means of new acquisitions.‟
The problem was the old central system for cleaning and washing production lines (all machines, plumbing, reservoirs, containers, etc.) with which only one line could be cleaned at a time, and we spent a lot of cleaning agents, water, energy and time on such cleaning. In addition, cleaning had to be regularly adjusted, depending on what was produced on a certain line. All these time-consuming processes increased costs and reduced production efficiency. The old system also posed a significant risk to our organic dairy.
With this computer-controlled project, we wanted to ensure good cleaning of all machines, plumbing, reservoirs and containers at the dairy. We also wanted to cut down the consumption of cleaning agents, water and working hours. The goal was to achieve better safety of our employees at the dairy and to better protect the environment.
Many outsourcers were included in this project besides us. At first, we had to provide suitable premises for the clean-in-place system (CIP), which was followed by the purchase of all the required equipment. Suppliers of cleaning agents were also part of the implementation of the CIP for us to optimise the cleaning process by determining exactly the consumption of cleaning agents, water and time on the basis of measurements. We had to train all our employees who use the system.
The quantity of milk processed annually is currently slightly less than 600,000 litres; a lot of it is exported to Italy. The quantity of processed milk grows by approximately 5 per cent annually.
Three production lines may be cleaned at the same time with different formulations, which significantly reduces time consumption and facilitates the processing of more milk. The Planika Dairy processes its products into traditional and increasingly innovative products, such as cheese with hemp tips, wild oregano and smoked Soča trout, which increases the added value of its brands and products on the market.
The company keeps developing new and innovative products, for which they have won:
A special award of the Nutrition Institute for innovation when stimulating local cultivation and processing of food products in 2018. The Planika Dairy purchases and processes only milk produced in local mountain areas. In this way, they significantly contribute to the cultivation of agricultural land, preservation of the industry and local employment. Special attention is dedicated to fresh pasteurised milk which is characterised by its full taste thanks to the manner of its production. This is affected by animal nutrition, the manner of breeding, high mountain areas of the purchased land where animals graze in the summer. Such milk is also an excellent raw material for various dairy products to which interesting local ingredients are added with a great deal of innovativeness.
An award of the Finance Newspaper for the best food products as selected by consumers in 2018. With its cheese named Dobra misel (good thought), the Planika Dairy continues its story of authentic dairy products from the Soča Valley. This cheese is based on the Kober cheese produced from milk from mountain farms in the Soča Valley. The heavily sweet but pleasant fragrance is provided by the wild oregano which is also called in Slovenian dobra misel (good thought) after which the cheese was named. WIld oregano is picked by a local herbalist from whom herbs are purchased by the dairy.
– Environmental / Climate action:
First and foremost, good cleaning of production lines, and significantly lower consumption of cleaning agents and water are guaranteed.
The Planika Dairy is actively included in the following measures of the RDP 2014–2020:
– Organic farming (M11): 102.76 ha of grassland
– Payments to areas facing natural or other specific constraints
– LFA (M13): 102.87 ha – Animal welfare (M14): 117 animals
In June 2018, the “Bogata” organic estate was opened in Bovec with approximately 130 milking cows, where they produce organic milk for their eco product line – milk, yoghurt with hemp oil and cheese. To add to tourist products and services of Bovec, and give particularly families with children a pleasant experience in nature among animals, they adapted the estate for visitors to see grazing cows and sheep, and learn about the history of dairy farming in the Soča Valley. They also learn about the difference between organic and conventional milk, and see how milk is processed.
The Planika Dairy is part of the organic production and processing scheme, for which it has obtained various certificates.
By intentionally purchasing all milk in the Soča Valley, including from small mountain farms, they significantly contribute to employment and revenue on farms. Networking value: Can the project be considered as an example of good networking? Is it the result of the cooperation of different stakeholders? Please explain how. The Planika Dairy is a cooperative company owned by the Tolmin Agricultural Cooperative which has 201 members. The Planika Dairy purchases all milk from local farmers; the network includes 95 farmers who all come from the Soča Valley and the Idrija area.
When developing their products, they connect with other suppliers, such as a local herbalist who provides wild oregano for their innovative Dobra misel cheese, and with the Ileršič Organic Farm which supplies them hemp for their awarded innovative cheese with hemp tips and yoghurt with hemp oil.
Anka Miklavčič Lipušček,
Mlekarna Planika d.o.o.
Presentation VIDEO: Video Planika diary
Photo copyright ČZD Kmečki glas d. o. o.