Serbian Dairy Producers Supply to their Community and Beyond

Serbian Dairy Producers Supply to their Community and Beyond

In the Serbian municipality of Svrljig, thirteen experienced dairy producers and farmers, all experts in agriculture, livestock-raising, and production, came together in December 2005 to form the only dairy cooperative in the municipality, “AECKOOP.”

AECKOOP was formed to satisfy an increasing demand for dairy products, but they initially still faced barriers due to old and inadequate production equipment. This was when they decided to approach CHF International. Through the Community Development Revitalization through Democratic Action (CRDA) program, nearly 150 local Community Development Councils (CDCs) have been formed. These CDCs choose community projects, such as AECKOOP, to fund.

With the assistance of CHF and the CDC, AECKOOP received a grant consisting of production equipment and storage for dairy products. With this equipment, AECKOOP is producing specialty dairy products packed in authentic, traditional Svrljig dairy dishes.

“The products will be marketed under a registered brand name and have an indication of origin on the label, as well as a healthy food label safeguarding their quality,” says Vlada. “Our plan is to distribute belmuz cheese through well-known wholesalers, specialized retailers and directly to exclusive restaurants,” he explains.

All production stages will be closely monitored, and the products will be promoted in the domestic market. At the same time, efforts will be made to carve a niche in foreign markets where authentic Svrljig specialty dairy products will surely meet with consumer approval on account of their quality control and traditional recipes. As the cooperative specializes in food processing, it is planning to introduce the HACCP standards in the production process which should make breaking into foreign markets much easier.

The success and sustainability of this production will not only encourage milk producers to provide increased quantities of their product but overall, it will be a great stimulus for the development of agriculture and livestock-raising throughout the region.

One of these specialties is “belmuz” cheese which is in great demand both in the local and the national market. Vlada Krstic, a member of the AECKOOP cooperative, says that the cheese produced in the experimental phase was showcased at different fairs and meetings and generated huge interest. The uniqueness of this product, combined with a promotional and advertising campaign, will make it possible to win the market very quickly.