The transformation of emmental, cheddar, mozzarella, gouda, edam and maasdam into variously sized blocks, slices and grated cheese has become the key to Tippagral’s success in the food market.
“We have been known as a brand in cheese-making for many decades. Today, we are a subsidiary of the Irish Tipperary-coop group, which has been in existence for 100 years,” points out General Manager Oisin Morrin, who has been working for Tippagral for the past ten years.
Before that, Mr. Morrin, himself a graduate biologist, had worked in the salmon industry. In 1990, the Irish group acquired Davoine, which had a long history in cheese-maturing and cheese-making itself, and boosted the company’s activities.
While in 1990 the company transformed only 3,000 t of cheese per year, investments in new production machinery have led to an increase to 13,000 t per year.
“However, this might not be the end of expansion yet. We predict that against the backdrop of growing milk and cheese consumption worldwide, we will experience continued growth in the coming years,” points out Mr. Morrin. “Another aspect, which is not to be underestimated, is the growing demand for convenience food both in retailing and in catering. Obviously, it is more convenient for a restaurant to use ready grated, cut or sliced cheese instead of doing the job itself.”
Looking at the high quality of Tippagral’s packaged cheese and the various options it offers, it is understandable that many customers prefer products from a specialist supplier like Tippagral.
The cheese that the company uses for processing is supplied from manufacturers throughout Europe. “All cheeses from our suppliers undergo strict testing and quality control so that we can guarantee total traceability of our products from raw material to finished product,” says Mr. Morrin.
Purchasing and selection of cheese varieties is one of the company’s strengths. It carefully selects a cheese according to its properties and its use.
Among its suppliers are the parent company in Ireland as well as cheese manufacturers in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland and France. For the past 26 years, Tippagral has been a subsidiary of Tipperary-coop in Ireland, which has enabled the company to negotiate eye-to-eye with large customers from food manufacturing and retailing.
Production is located in Longvic in France where Tippagral operates a state-of-the-art production plant, which is fully automated and meets the highest quality standards. Only recently, Tippagral invested about four million EUR in the site.
In 2015, the company also opened a new sales office in Barcelona. Tippagral supplies the B2B market exclusively, selling its transformed and packaged cheese varieties to all companies where food is processed. Among its customers are food manufacturers and retailers as well as canteens, wholesalers, gastronomy and even airlines.
Cheese is transformed according to customer requirements. “The majority of cheeses are grated.”
“We also package cheese in large blocks, ranging from sizes of 1 to 3 kg, 3 to 5 kg or 7 to 8 kg,” explains Mr. Morrin. “In addition, many customers want slices or dice. We also offer cheese mixes, which means that in line with its later use, two or more varieties can be mixed, for instance mozzarella and emmental. This results in an optimum functionality. Some customers ask for cheese that melts easily and still tastes great. This is when cheese mixes do the job.”
The transformed and packaged cheese is sold within Europe via the Barcelona office. For two to three years now, Tippagral has established contacts with customers in North Africa, Turkey, the Gulf region and even from South Korea.
“In particular pizza has become an issue in these markets, and we experience high demand for grated cheese used as pizza topping,” stresses Mr. Morrin. “We currently export 16% of our turnover, but it is our objective to increase this figure to 20 to 25% within the next five to ten years. This is one reason why we have invested in our production capacities.”
In order to meet its ambitious goals, Tippagral has not only invested in its production site, but it has also developed new products, including slices and small dice. “Even though we have increased our export activities, we predict that this will not be the end yet, as there is still strong potential waiting to be exploited,” says Mr. Morrin.
The dairy market is suffering from fierce price battles and falling prices at the moment, but the overall market outlook is rather optimistic. “We see a soaring demand for cheese in Asia. Here, a growing middle-class is craving pizza and other dishes that need cheese as a basic ingredient. As a European player, we are well positioned, although we still see competition from other regions,” points out Mr. Morrin. “Nevertheless, cheese from great cheese-producing countries in Europe is hard to beat – in every form.”