The Grangettes cheese dairy
Several cheese dairies have recently embarked on major projects: new buildings, extensions or renovations.
We are sitting in the meeting room of the dairy company. Around the table are five of the twenty-four milk producers who produce milk at the Grangettes cheese dairy, in the foothills of the Gibloux, and Christophe Lauper, the cheese maker. The atmosphere is convivial.
"I then went to the cheesemakers in the region, with the architects' plans under my arm, to ask them for their opinion."
Christophe Lauper, cheese maker
It all started in 2012, when the Dairy Federation asked the different producers of Châtelard-Haut, Grangettes and Neirigue to meet to consider a new project for a joint cheese dairy. "The old installations were modern... thirty years ago", says Emmanuel Jaquet, President of the dairy society of Grangettes and the surrounding area. They were worn out and dilapidated. They had to be renovated to bring them up to current hygiene standards. "We couldn't manage them separately any more. The cost of renovations was becoming far too high for our three dairy companies. We had to think about a solution together," says Emmanuel Jaquet. The members of the new society then approached Joseph Lauper and his son Christophe to take over the new cheese dairy that they wanted to build.
Once the members of the company began looking for a site to build the new cheese dairy, the difficulties began. For seven years they searched for a piece of land. The Federal Office for Land Development rejected their first two applications, which were outside the permitted construction zone. In the end, they decided on the site of the former Grangettes dairy in the centre of the village. Work began in autumn 2018. "It was a complicated and exhausting period. But now we're seeing results, so we can forget about it and move forward," recalls Emmanuel Jaquet. "It's lucky that we get along so well and that we've stuck together. All decisions were taken unanimously. Uniting is the future. Our power lies in working together," adds François Perroud, milk producer.
"We chose to work with recognised companies in the field," stresses Benoit Mesot. Christophe and Joseph Lauper went to visit numerous cheese dairies built by the chosen architectural firm. "I then went to the cheesemakers in the region, with the architects' plans under my arm, to ask them for their opinion", says Christophe Lauper. The aim was to refine and optimise the plans to make everything as ergonomic and functional as possible. In addition, Jean-Pascal Perroud had already worked in masonry. He therefore monitored the construction closely.
The Grangettes dairy reopened on 3 December 2019. It will produce 275 tonnes of Gruyère AOP per year, which will then be matured for 3 months in the cheese cellars of Fromage Gruyère SA in Bulle. The milk producers get to benefit from the new facilities on a daily basis; all the milk can be pumped out at once, for example. They therefore spend less time at the dairy. "But we have kept a strong bond between us. There are always two or three of us there at the same time," concludes François Perroud.