Author: Redazione Alimenta

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A high-tech shepherd for a “ultrabiological” cheese

A high-tech shepherd who raises his sheeps openair, he makes them eat the grass during all the year and he milks them with his computer. His name is Luigi Farina and his farm is in Albinia, in the Maremma (Tuscany).

Each sheep owned by Farina, a family coming originally from Sardinia and moved in the province of Grosseto, bought a microchip through which is possible to know the health status of each animal, his/her live, how old he/she is, how many time females have been pregnant and if she needs to be milked. Sheeps are recorded and tracked, then divided according to the necessity. This program lead them to the milking if they are healthy or towards a period of quarantine if they are sick, for example if they have the mastite.

“This is an unusual approch to sheeps, while this is normaly used with cows”, says Luigi Farina. “The software and the technology is imported from Israel, where it is used in bigger farms and allows saving in terms of environmental and economical resources, as well as significantly lower livel of stress for animals”. Recently mr Farina has committed to BsRC Bioscience Research Center, a research centre based in Fonteblanda (Grosseto), the control of the productive chain, in order to implement the quality of products and reduce the environmental impacts during the processes. One of the main goal is to select a type of fodder which can lead to better results in terms of milk production, its composition and implementation of healthy substances”, says Cristina Guerranti, expert in food security and scientific director of the Research Centre. The goal of Guerranti is improve milk production so to produce a better cheese in terms of health, environmental impact and costs, evaluating the quality of environments where animals live, the environments where fodder and milk are stocked, and the production of cheese, and monitor the contaminated that normally are in every environments, including those which are not provided by the law on the biological, and intervene in order to drastically reduce their levels. All this work would aimed to obtain a even cleaner and healthier product, that Guerrani calls “ultrabiological”.

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Enthalpy Project: 60% energy savings in milk powder production

Chocolate, ice cream and infant formula are everyday consumables. Milk powder is an essential ingredient in these products. The production process from fresh milk to powdered milk is quite complex and energy consuming. From 1 November 2013, TNO takes the lead in a 3 year €6 million European project called “Enthalpy” (Enabling the drying process to save energy and water, realising process efficiency in the dairy chain). The project will look to reduce energy usage in dairy powder production process by 60%. This reduction will be achieved by combining innovative technologies advanced by a number of Enthalpy partners located within Europe.
152 million tons of milk produced every year in the dairy sector account to 15% of the agricultural output in Europe (2011, Source: By introducing innovations and further developing technologies the Enthalpy project aims to reduce energy by 60% and water consumption by 15%. Such reductions will have a significant impact on production processes and energy consumption levels in the dairy industry and exceed the target set by the European Commission to reduce energy consumption in such processes by 20% and by the year 2020.
the Enthalpy scientists coming from eight EU member states will examine four key areas along the production chain and ensure simultaneous savings of resources. They will consider:
1) more efficient pre-treatment of milk,
2) elimination of fine particles during spray drying,
3) recovery of heat and water present in the used drying air,
4) more effective cleaning processes.

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UE, green light also in Italy to cheeses and dairy products made with powder milk. Dop, Igp e Stg products left out

Since few days we can read  news about a letter of formal notice sent by the European Commission to our country, in which it is contained the prohibition to use powder milk, condensed milk and re-energised milk to produce dairy products. This prohibition refers to a law approved in 1974 that – from the EU point of view – is againt the freedom of wares circulation within the European Union, and so it needs to be changed.

This letter was followed by several controversies among experts, journalists and politicians, included the Minister of Agricultural, Policies, Food and Forests, mister Maurizio Martina. He firstly tweetted a comment in which he talked about a diktat: “About cheese and powder milk, no to Eu diktat“. Then he explained better his opinion in a press release dated 28 june: “We will defende the quality of our italian dairy system and the transparency of information for our customers. We will, then, explain once again to the European Commission the necessity of a more significant action concerning the label for milk, so that we can better understand the needs of our producers and, above all, that can put an end to the quota system. We are not willing to step backward on these principles. It is important to reaffirm that this situation doesn’t concern our big Dop cheeses, for which won’t be possible to use other first material than those mentioned in the guidelines“.

Besides the Minister, also Mauro Pili, a sardinian deputy from the party Popolo delle Libertà, presented a point of order to the Minister asking him to reject the european letter of formal notice and to garantee sardinian products. He also promoted a petition on to stop any attempt to modify the guidelines concerning the defense of dairy sardinian products.

The situation is still quite confused, and even the press keeps proposing statements pro and against the letter from the European Commission. This last answered officially to a claim dated may 2015 it received from a section of the italian dairy industry (not better explaination were given by the Commission last 29 june) that considers it self penalized by the mentioned law 1974. In its answer, the Commission explains that its members asked italian autorities some clarifications and they started a investigation, without having received any feedback and making clear that the investigation is not linked to the quality of products, but to the regolamentation of the European Single Market. Moreover, it affirms that “all italian products protected by the european quality schemes (IGP, DOP, STG), for example the mozzarella DOP, are not concerned by the investigation, since the european politics on products’ quality gives specific guidelines for their production”.

While the investigation continues, the Commission waits for an answer from italian authorities to the letter sent in may.


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Global Dairy Trade: powder milk leads price decrease

The hope to see prices of dairy products increasing has been disappointed during the Global Dairy Trade (the global stock exchange for dairy products) when new minimum were recorded compared to the last 6 years, the powder milk leading the trend downward. The Global Dairy Trade index, based on prices paid at auctions twice a month, decreased 5,9% from last trading. The most significant decreasings concern, indeed, whole powder milk, which avarage prices decreased 10,8% compared to last auction, on the 16th of june. Skimmed milk prices decreased 5,8% while anhydrous fat of powder milk decreased 1,6%. This is the 8th negative prices session in a row. John Spanhour, broker from Chicago for dairy products, explains that prices decrease is the result of a continous exceeding offert due, above all, to the weak demand of a key importer: China. To solve the problem, either China return to previous demand levels, or producer countries need to calculate again as soon as possible the offer, taking in account the chinese situation. Mr Spainhour also underlined that the price of powder milk is certainly the most penalized because it is used in China in a key industry: milk for children. Who is paying the highest price of this situation is New Zealand, main exporter of powder milk, that invested in production capacity in the period of main expansion of the chinese demand. Now, with a low demand in China, there is an exceeding offer, with a negative influence in the national economy.

The negative influence on prices of change rate neozealand dollar vs US dollar

Another fact that have influence on current prices of milk is the change rate between neozealand currency and the US currency. The first one reached the minimun level of the last 5 years vs the US dollar. The neozealand dollar suffers the low change rate of the Central Bank and a serie of economic data not advantageous, also causing the difficult moment for the dairy industry which is one of the biggest in the country.

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