An interview with a cheese and dairy industry expert
In our previous blog article, we reviewed the offering of the Anuga trade fair that was organized in March. The fair provided a fairly good view of various development trends in the cheese and dairy industry, which we will now focus on in more detail. To support and enrich our own perspective, we interviewed a true expert in the field, Senior Scientist Tuomo Tupasela from the Natural Resources Institute Finland, for this article.
The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) provides new solutions toward the sustainable development of the Finnish bioeconomy and the promotion of new businesses. Tupasela leads Luke’s experiment hall function where, among other things, different cheese making experiments are designed and implemented for Luke’s own and customer research. As a dairy technician with a master’s degree in dairy technology, he thoroughly knows dairy processes, both in theory and in practice.
Trend #1: The range of cheeses will increase
As we wrote in our blog already a year ago, the range of cheese flavors continues to increase. Consumers are seeking new experiences in taste and constant variation in the cheese selection on store shelves.
“The opening of the market will further increase the number of imported cheeses. Here, in Finland, this was quite evident already in the 1990s after joining the European Union. The ever-growing consumer travel also contributes to increasing interest in foreign cheeses everywhere”, Tupasela says.
“Organically produced cheeses, hand-made cheeses, more aged cheeses with a stronger flavor, light cheeses and cream cheeses are examples of products that consumers want more of on store shelves. In addition to taste, people also want options in shape: some want their cheese as a block and some as slices. I, in turn, am looking forward to the development of completely new kinds of cheese, as many of the currently produced cheeses are based on old and traditional cheese types.”
Developing new flavors is one way for cheese dairies to respond to tighter competition. In order to make the development and flexible production of new flavors possible, new things are also required from cheese making equipment. Going forward, cheese production lines need to be more readily adaptable for the production of different cheeses and, on the other hand, product development also requires its own solutions – one example of which is the MKT Prototype Vat that we developed.
Trend #2: Large cheese dairies increase automation and small ones rely on artisanship
“From a global point of view, the cheese industry is moving in two directions in a certain way. The unit sizes of large cheese dairies are growing and they seek efficiency for their operations through, for example, automation. On the other hand, there are many small, local cheesemakers who are increasingly focusing on artisan cheeses”, Tupasela says.
Especially large cheese dairies will have to invest more and more on automatically operating equipment and processes in order to keep up with the competition. As we have said in our blog, automation brings efficiency and uniform quality. It also plays an important role in the timely and effective utilization of the data collected at various process stages. On the other hand, automation also provides excellent tools for the emergence of medium-sized cheese dairies operating in a flexible and agile way between large and small cheese dairies.
Trend #3: Smaller batches
The expansion of the cheese flavor range and the utilization of automation and robotics contribute to the variation in batch size. Tupasela sees smaller vats and batches as an opportunity to improve the flow of production.
“The milk amount of cheese dairies will not decrease as such, but it will be processed in smaller batches in the future. It is obvious that a smaller cheese vat is faster to fill up and empty out than a larger vat, which in turn has an impact on how quickly the production flows forward. Smaller batches may improve cheese yields and reduce wastage.”
Trend #4: Dairy-free cheese-like products
Dairy-free products have been a rising trend in the food industry for some time now. The same trend is also emerging in cheese production.
“Dairy-free, plant-based cheese-like products are in a clearly upward trend. The existing equipment of cheese dairies is in some respects suitable for the production of dairy-free options, but the need to develop new types of equipment is also inevitable. Alongside strictly dairy-free products, I think we will also see various blends combining, for example, milk and a plant-based ingredient”, Tupasela says.
Trend #5: Innovations in primary production
All development work does not happen just within the walls of the equipment manufacturer and the cheese dairy. Tupasela also highlights the importance of primary production in cheesemaking and marketing.
“Globally, cow breeds will be utilized more strongly especially in the marketing of end products. Similarly, certain types of feeding, such as grass feeding, may be emphasized in marketing.”
Trends are an opportunity
As can be seen, there is a wide range of trends emerging in the cheese industry, some of which will have an effect in the short term and some in the long term. However, the need for continuous change and renewal is certain, which is why no cheese dairy or equipment manufacturer can only think about the present. Automation, robotics and cloud services are revolutionizing traditional production methods, and changes in demand affect what kind of cheese is worth making in the future.
We at MKT want to be at the forefront of the cheese industry in welcoming these trends that break the established operating models, and develop solutions for their full utilization. The results of our development work so far are in effective use in our cottage cheese line and semi and hard cheese line.
If your cheese dairy regards the future in the same way, please contact us – we have a lot to talk about. You can contact us easily using the contact form here.