Part 1: Beaufort Cheese Cooperative

ANNECY
Annecy

Mark Setchfield travels to Lyon and Annecy in France to meet some of the heavyweights of cheese production, and to a remote farm up at the heights of Bouchet-Mont-Charvin to find out why the Middle East is demanding so much French “fromage”.

It’s no secret that the Middle East is home to some of the world’s most popular varieties of cheese. European Union statistics have revealed that the UAE imported 18,485 tonnes of cheese from Europe in 2018.
The French cheese industry employs nearly 300,000 people and is the second-largest producer of milk after Germany; from mass production to remote organic farms, the French love cheese.

The French cheese industry employs nearly 300,000 people and is the second-largest producer of milk after Germany; from mass production to remote organic farms, the French love cheese.
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Milking in progress
Beaufort Cheese Cooperative

Stepping forward I was the first volunteer to milk a cow, it was the freshest milk you can get. I had travelled 2,400 metres up to the alpage (high mountain pasture) where a herd of Taurine cows were grazing, ready for the second milking of the day. Farmer and landowner Christian Juglaret, president of the cooperative, Laitiere de Haute- Tarentaise and Beaufort cheese producer, owns pretty much as far as the eye can see. Beaufort is a mountain cheese, like Gruyère, produced in the alpine regions of Savoie. From June to November, the cows are grazed on the sunny side of the mountains where the grass is green and lush.

Christian Juglaret, president of the co-operative, Laitiere de Haute-Tarentaise and Beaufort cheese producer_IMG_6364 copy
Farmer and landowner Christian Juglaret
Milk is then transported by road into town, to the factory where the cheese process begins.

Milking starts at 3 am then again at 6.30 am. The milk is then transported by road into town, to the factory where the cheese process begins: only milk produced that day can be used to make Beaufort. The cows’ excrement is used to fertilise the grass, putting vital nutrients back into the soil. In June, there are lots of flowers, which enrich the taste of the milk. By November, the temperature drops dramatically.

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Taurine cows

The cows make the four-hour descent down the mountains, where they spend four to five months in barns feeding on hay and cereal. The initial investment for the factory was €19 million, set up to exclusively produce Beaufort, a risky decision Juglaret explained, as the machinery can only make one type of cheese. They now also produce mountain butter and fondue cheese as part of an ever expanding business.

(Click here for my Beaufort cheese burgers)
Beaufort Fromage

 

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Cheese caves

Published in Hotel & Catering Middle East

PART 2: SODIAAL COOPERATIVE

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