Module 1. History, status and scope of cheese industry

Lesson 1

1.1 History and Developments in Cheese Manufacturing

Cheese is one of the oldest foods of mankind. It is commonly believed that cheese evolved in the Fertile Crescent between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates in Iraq some 8000 years ago. The so-called Agricultural Revolution occurred here with the domestication of plants and animals.

It seems that cheese originated accidentally as a result of the activities of nomadic tribes. Since animal skin bags were a convenient way of storing liquids for nomadic people, these were used for storing surplus milk. Fermentation of the milk sugars in the warm climate prevailing would cause the milk to curdle in the bags. The swaying animals would have broken up the acid curd during journeys to produce curds and whey. The whey provided a refreshing drink on hot journeys, while the curds, preserved by the acid of fermentation and a handful of salt, became a source of high protein food supplementing the meager meat supply.

This activity gave rise to the assumption that cheese was evolved from fermented milks. It is perhaps more probable that the crude fermentations progressed in two ways:

(1) production of liquid fermented milk such as dahi, yoghurt, laban, kumiss and kefir.

(2) drainage of whey through a cloth or perforated bowls, to leave solid curds which when salted, became cheese.

Cheese was a prominent item of the Greek and Roman diet as much as 2500 years ago. It is referred to in the Old Testament several times. Cheesemaking has been an Art handed down from generation to generation, and evolved as a gourmet food over the years.

Until the 18th century, cheese making was essentially a farmhouse industry, but towards the end of the century scientific findings began to provide guidelines, which were to have an impact on the process of making and ripening cheese. Thus, cheese making became an “Art with Science”. The process has undergone many developments during the course of its history.

Now-a-days, instead of using the enzyme rennin, a synthetic chymotrypsin derivative is sometimes used, along with extracts from molds and plants. The plethora of flavors is due to the manipulation of a variety of factors including the kind of milk used (cow, sheep, goat, buffalo, reindeer, camel, yak, etc.), curdling, cutting, cooking, and forming methods, the type of bacteria or mold used in ripening, the amount of salt/other seasonings added, the ripening and curing conditions (temperature, humidity, time, etc.) and many more.

Now the mechanization and automation has been taken to such a high level that several tons of cheese can be produced without the touch of a hand. Many machines have been developed for mass and continuous production of cheese like continuous cheddaring machine, advanced cutting and cooking vats, pressing machines, stretcher or cooker for some varieties of cheese, etc. All these will be discussed in lesson 16.

Another development in cheese making is the accelerated ripening of cheese. Traditionally cheese is kept for ripening for months or even years to develop typical flavour and texture. A great deal of research had been carried out to accelerate the cheese ripening to achieve the desired flavor and texture in very less time.

With over 2000 types, cheese is one of the most versatile foods in the world. Currently, about one third of the milk produced in the U.S. each year is used in the manufacturing of cheese. Cheese contains a concentrated amount of almost all of the valuable nutrients found in milk. In 2010, the top three world cheese producers were: (1) United States of America with 5.10 million tons (2) Germany with 2.08 million tons, and (3) France with 1.90 million tons.

Cheese is a protein rich product but at the same time, it also contains a considerable amount of fat. So, the calorie conscious populace of the world reduced the consumption of cheese. Keeping this in mind, a variety of low fat cheeses have been developed throughout the world to increase its consumption and to make it healthier. Now-a-days, work is being carried out to produce low salt cheese as increased salt consumption is leading to increased heart diseases in many countries particularly United States.

1.2 World Market for Cheese

Cheese continues to be a popular addition to every day diet, thanks to the high amount of protein, calcium, minerals and vitamins it contains. The consumption of cheese, over the years, has improved significantly across the world and subsequently the art of cheese making has now evolved into a lucrative business.

According to a report (Global Industry Analysts, 2010), though the economic recession has put a check on the cheese consumption pattern across the world, more importantly in the developing nations, the future outlook for global cheese market still remains bright with consumption of cheese projected to grow by more than 20% during 2008-2015. Purchasing decisions, being increasingly guided by price, cheaper yet healthy and wholesome foods are surfacing back into the spotlight. Consumers are additionally exhibiting shifting preferences from imported cheese brands to locally produced cheese. Post recession, the demand for organic cheese is slated to make a comeback, with manufacturers expected to expand their product offerings. Innovation and product diversification will be the most prominent market strategies for manufacturers and suppliers in the post recession period. The product mix is poised to change from traditional types of cheeses to new cheeses that suit the demand in developing dairy markets like China and India. The growing demand for dairy products that meet consumers changing diet and nutritional needs will result into strong growth for innovative and healthier cheese products, such as, lactose-free goat cheese products, and half-fat and reduced fat cheeses.

Europe and the United States lead the global cheese market, by consumption. However, with consumption levels for cheese in such developed markets nearing saturation, the focus of the global cheese industry now shifts towards emerging markets such as Asia-Pacific and Latin America. Cheese consumption in developed economies will be fraught by challenges, such as a matured market profile, limited growth in population, and most importantly the fast aging population, which account for lesser per capita consumption than younger generation. Therefore, any further development in cheese consumption within these markets is likely to be marginal and only associated with changes in form and type of dairy products consumed. Meanwhile, developing markets such as Asia, Latin America and the combined market of Middle East & Africa, are projected to display superior growth rates over the analysis period (2006-2015). Large population, and rising incomes in these nations will prove to be the major driving factors for exceptional growth in dairy consumption.

Key players operating in this market include Arla Foods, Amba., Belaya Reka Holding, Bongrain, SA., Belgioioso Cheese, Inc., Crystal Farms Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Inc., Dairy Farmers of America, Inc., Derivados De Leche La Esmeralda, Dairy Crest Group, Plc., Fonterra Group Cooperative Limited, Fromageries Bel, SA., Groupe Danone, S.A., Great Lakes Cheese Company, Inc., Grupo Industrial Lala, S.A. de C.V., Kraft Foods, Inc., Land O' Lakes, Inc., Leprino Foods Company, Inc., Lactalis McLelland, Ltd., Meiji Dairies, Corp., North Downs Dairy Co., Ltd., Parmalat, S.P.A., Snow Brand Milk Products Co, LTD., Sancor Cooperativas Unidas Limitada, Saputo, Inc., Specialty Cheese Co., Inc., Tillamook County Creamery Association, Valio Ltd, Wyke Farms, Ltd., Wisconsin Cheese Group Inc.
Last modified: Wednesday, 3 October 2012, 9:44 AM