Crops Research Group staff are responsible for the production and dispatch of commercial microorganism cultures with a focus on their use in cheesemaking. They are also concerned with the introduction of new cultures into the range, and with the ongoing improvement of the processes involved. The Crops Research Group works very closely with Research and Development, as well as with Agroscope Extension Services. In addition, it is in constant communication with practitioners and customers. The extensive and unique Agroscope Strain Collection represents an invaluable resource for future developments.
A Success Story
The production of cultures can look back on a history spanning more than a century, and builds on an exceptional wealth of experience. The current range of products encompasses over 40 different cultures which are dispatched regularly to the approx. 600 Swiss cheese dairies and alpine farms. Around two-thirds of Switzerland’s traditional cheese varieties are produced with the Liebefeld cultures, which are also represented in around 90% of Swiss cheese exports.
Cultures from Liebefeld are a genuine success story. They are the perfect illustration of the close cooperation between research and practice. For decades now, the cultures and the know-how imparted with them have been prized by the Swiss dairy sector as an important differentiating factor.
Product Range and Infrastructure
The product line ranges from the famous thermophilic raw mixed cultures, to defined thermophilic and mesophilic mixed- and single-strain cultures, propionic-acid bacteria and surface cultures, to facultative heterofermentative and proof-of-origin cultures.
The cultures are produced in liquid and preserved (i.e. freeze-dried and deep-frozen) form. Culture preservation represents an innovative area of development within culture production. In recent years, various processes have been developed and optimised on an ongoing basis. Another important task here is the upscaling from pilot to production scale. Since there are many current culture-preservation development projects, a particularly lively exchange takes place in this field with Agroscope’s R&D department.
The complex biotechnological facilities used in culture production are operated by qualified staff, and maintained and further developed in close cooperation with Agroscope engineering specialists.
Extremely high demands are placed on the quality of the cultures. The production of cultures is certified according to various quality and food-safety standards (FSSC 22000, Biosuisse, kosher, halal).
Even Closer Ties with Dairy Industry and Practice
Since 2019, Agroscope’s culture production is organised into a Public – Private Partnership (PPP) with the industry, thereby further strengthening ties with practice.