Caseificio Europeo Società Agricola Cooperativa
Dairy Number: MN423
Via B. Buozzi, 2
46031 - Bagnolo S. Vito (MN)
tel. 0376 414191 - fax 0376 415795
Vintage image of Grana Padano with Europeo Dairy’s serial numberGROWTH, ALSO IN SUSTAINABILITY, TO GIVE VALUE TO THE MILK
With this objective, the “Caseificio Europeo” Dairy has launched new investments and is engaged in a complete overhaul of the plant with a view to saving energy.
Outside the dairy, the large copper-lined vats, which resemble upside-down large bells, are slowly all being replaced by newer, more modern ones. These large vats are used to contain the milk which will be transformed into curd and from which two "twin" wheels per vat will be extracted from them at the end of the cheese making process.
“The old ones have done their work for twenty years” explains Renato Zaghini, president of the Dairy of Bagnolo San Vito (MN) for 21 years and treasurer of the Grana Padano Protection Consortium. The shape of the new vats does not change: the new ones have the same copper lining and the same dimensions to accommodate, each, a thousand litres of naturally partially-skimmed milk, as required by the Production Specification of the PDO: “we have 72 vats in all. Those that can be seen outside of the dairy are the last old ones. We have already changed the others.”
The team of technicians working in the dairy. INVESTMENTS IN A NEW WAREHOUSE
In the front row, second from the right, the president of the cooperative, Renato Zaghini
"On average - explains Zaghini - we produce 250 wheels of Grana Padano a day, in this period only 200 because we are selling some milk. In the last few months, the price of the raw material is high, and we also have a production quota as a dairy that we do not want to exceed in order not to pay the extra contribution”. The European Dairy produces 90 thousand wheels a year, half of which are put to mature in the company warehouse of 45 thousand wheels, half in third party warehouses. "We plan in 2020 - explains the president - to build a new warehouse to double the volumes for ageing them. In the new structure we will also invest in technologically advanced equipment for the handling of the wheels. We plan to invest around € 3 million and will try to apply for funding through the Rural Development Program. We are trying to grow, but without exceeding, together with our farms that increase milk production year by year and become more and more efficient. Bear in mind that the cooperative has celebrated 60 years of activity and started in 1956 with 90 initial members and 3.000 tons of milk delivered in one year.” Even the name chosen at the time, “Caseificio Europeo”, shows that they were true innovators.
Today we are 25-26 members and 45.000 tons of milk a year are processed”. In addition to the individual farms, the actual members include the cooperatives Agrilatte Brescia and Produttori Agricoli Desenzano.
The steam from the vat during productionOBJECTIVE: TO REDUCE ENERGY CONSUMPTION
Which is the most delicate step in the Grana Padano production? "I don't want to simplify - replies the president of Europeo - but even before the milk, attention must be paid to the feeding of the dairy cows and animal welfare. The farmer is the first interested in respecting the rules, and in particular in making milk production more sustainable. Further down the supply chain, the producer of Grana Padano also must to do his part.”
For this reason, the dairy is currently engaged in a complete overhaul of the plant engineering to reduce energy consumption and improve environmental sustainability. A green change that started, in terms of energy savings, from the simple replacement of LED lights, but now involves the whole dairy. "The production of energy, that is of heat, but above all of cold - explains Zaghini - will take place with a new technology that uses ammonia instead of freon. A solution that allows a yield increase compared to that of the gas traditionally used to generate cold and therefore offers significant energy savings, over 50% compared to current consumption. It is a 1-million-euro investment.”
The cooperative’s dividend, for the year ended in March 2019, was satisfactory thanks also to the value of the transformation into Grana Padano: higher than 50 cents per kilogram of milk, without VAT. The turnover of the Europeo Dairy is around 30 million euros.
A technician with the “pala” (wooden shovel) for extracting the wheels«THOSE WHO PRODUCE GRANA PADANO CANNOT ALSO DO FAKES»
“Furthermore - points out Zaghini - our dividends are the mirror of the trend of the Grana Padano market. One must admit that some choices of the Grana Padano Protection Consortium such as the differentiated contribution, the intense promotional activity carried out both for the benefit of the internal market and for exports, have brought rewards. It has also been understood that it is not appropriate to make “fake” Grana Padano if the real one is produced: it avoids creating confusion on the market and in the consumer. The price difference, in the absence of adequate consumer training, often leads in one direction only, to give up the value of the PDO. We must therefore choose: to produce Grana Padano and produce quality or to do the “fake” and focus on convenience. I am convinced supporter of this rule.”
Zaghini continues by explaining that a higher price of the raw material, always ends up, in any case, by discouraging the production of similar products for the lower added value of the finished product. For this reason, milk for Grana Padano cannot count like milk used for drinking milk or other unprotected cheeses.
THE DAIRY’S SHOP
The dairy in Via Buozzi 4, in Bagnolo San Vito, has a shop for the sale of food and wine products and typical specialties of the Mantua and Lombardy areas, as well as Grana Padano PDO.
The offer ranges from wines to cured meats and beef from local farms, fresh and aged cheeses and generates a turnover of 1.5 million euros.