Η Lefkara Farm, from Lefkara Kozani is a relatively new effort in cheese-making which, however, was set on a great livestock tradition and had as a condition the knowledge and the passion. Kosmas Kypirtoglou has it all. The odds, then, are on his side.
He has been involved in cheese-making since 2009, without any previous relationship, although he comes from livestock parents. A graduate of the Dairy School of Ioannina, he decided to set up a cheese factory while his brother managed to increase the size of their parents' livestock farm fivefold and today produces about 300 tons of milk a year from the sheep he raises.
Development & cheese factory
The financial opening was great for the family's potential, but the most difficult thing in the beginning was the fact that it had neither a family product to develop and improve it nor a clientele to serve and expand it; everything had to be done from beginning. "I was going to sell cheese and the professionals would ask me, 'Who are you?' It was difficult for the retailer to trust us at first, certainly beyond our area, where people knew my refugee grandfather and my father who were always involved in animal husbandry and making cheese. We were not even known in Kozani ".
The development of the dairy was done through Leader programs and the total investment has now reached 1.2 million euros while its capacity is the processing of 10-15 tons of milk in 8 hours of operation.
As the young cheesemaker from Kozani informed us, the cheese factory cooperates with about 20 farmers and is currently waiting for the approval for the implementation of another program - renovation of the building facilities, new storage areas and modernization of the mechanical equipment - to enter the small packing. «Our goal is to be able to serve the neighborhood shops and the small retail that does not have a cutting department. We will enter a program for photovoltaics while the wastewater is already given for treatment»Informs us.
The Farm started making PDO feta and local sour cheese (‘touloumisio’ or ‘nivato’), goat cheese and yogurt and in the process created a retail store in Kozani. The store started 6 years ago, initially as a cheese shop, but then evolved into a delicatessen with an emphasis on cheese.
Today the dairy also produces gruyere, kefalograviera PDO, kefalotyri, cow cheese, PDO cheese, gruyere with truffle, gruyere with peppers, PDO cheese, cream cheese, butter, mizithra while the company's goal is to get fresh products organic and bottled milk. A few weeks ago, the company started producing goat's milk ice cream.
"Our goal is to circulate goat's milk, but in this investment the most important problem is the distribution. If there is no network, it is difficult· θα βρούμε λύση» ισχυρίζεται ο τυροκόμος από την Κοζάνη. Το δίκτυο διανομής αυτό το διάστημα περιλαμβάνει, εκτός από την Κοζάνη, την Θεσσαλονίκη, τον Βόλο, την Λάρισα, την Αθήνα χωρίς όμως να έχει μπει σε αλυσίδα- άλλωστε μέχρι πριν λίγο δεν υπήρχε η παραγωγή να στηρίξει κάτι τέτοιο.
Kosmas Kypirtoglou hears a lot about feta and its price, but he believes that what matters and distinguishes him, the small cheesemakers in general, from the large units, is the high operating cost he is required to pay. «It is not easy to compete with the big ones"He tells us and comments:"If something was done systematically in feta, in terms of control and promotion, many professionals would benefit as it is known that most of the production is feta. Only then will the climate changeα».
We ask K. Kypirtoglou about what is heard about feta and price competition, which, most of the time, is to the detriment of the market and the product as a whole. His point of view is: “A.If we calculate what is sold as feta and what milk we produce as a country, you will find that the balances 'do not come out'. It is not possible to sell either so much feta or at such prices, ie 3.20 and 3.30 euros. There are offers, okay. But there are some who do this on a permanent basis».