Soloitza, a ground-breaking cheese factory in energy use and harnessing

2022-09-28

Soloitza is a newly-created sustainable and innovative cheese factory located in Respaldiza, in the Ayala Valley (Álava, Basque Country).

It started producing cheese in the middle of 2021, with the main aim of increasing the value of the milk produced on its cattle farm. Sustainability and innovation are the cornerstones of this cheese factory. Both the design of the cheese factory and the end products are based on the concepts of sustainability and innovation.

The Urruela family launched its agro-livestock business in the 1960s. Initially, milk production and the dairy products produced in this family-run cheese factory were mainly used for their own consumption and direct sales of milk locally. It became a business in earnest in 1971, with the creation of an innovative cattle farm that was ahead of its time. So the number of heads of cattle increased, resulting in a rise in milk production.

 

Years later, there was a generation-to-generation handover and the company Urruela SC was created, with Enrique taking the control of the business. For many years, the milk it produced was sold to the central dairy, but when Ziortza joined the family business, they saw a need to embark on a new business activity and enhance it by producing high value-added products.  So, based on innovation and respect for the environment, the family began to take the first steps in the development of its family project, having consolidated itself with the creation of the cheese factory.

Soloitza has a bioclimatic design, it has highly energy-efficient systems such as high-efficiency cooling equipment and high-performance humidification systems, solar panels for harnessing solar energy and remote management systems. It also uses technological tools in its manufacturing processes, to optimise production of its artisan dairy products.

They currently produce several dairy products that are very popular among customers. In addition to yoghurts and soft cheeses, Soloitza has developed an innovative product, blue cheese made with cow’s milk. Although blue cheese production is on the rise in the Basque Country, this is mainly produced using sheep’s milk.

Nevertheless, success does not happen by itself. While developing the project, Ziortza has received training in the form of specialised courses on cheese production technology, and she and Enrique visited and shared experiences with several cheese producers across Europe. The knowledge that they have acquired has made it easier for them to fulfil their set objectives. Additionally, as they embarked on this venture, they were supported by the Leartiker Dairy Centre when establishing their blue cheese production process, helping them to set the parameters that are applied in each stage of production.

Soloitza has just been created and taken its first steady steps, consolidating the progress it has made, with great development potential and holding to its principles. Ziortza understands that the key to making the cheese factory competitive lies in innovation, so in the near future we are expecting them to surprise us with some new innovative cheeses. The Dairy Centre is looking forward to seeing what comes next!

 

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