The building permit for a new dairy in Gstaad has been issued. Construction is scheduled to be completed by spring 2020. The development will include milk reception and processing facilities as well as a warehouse.
New site to boost production
The new building will be a single-storey purpose-built structure with a collection and delivery area, production and storage rooms, and an office space. According to the dairy cooperative president, Jürg Romang, while the initial project was estimated at CHF 8 to 9m, it is now estimated at CHF 10 to 11m. The higher costs are mostly due to the fact that the original plans had assumed the 30-year-old dairy equipment would continue to be used at the new site, whereas the final plans include practically all new equipment. “We will have a larger cheese maker, which will enable us to process more milk per batch and create reserves,” explains René Ryser, managing director of the Gstaad dairy. “Maybe we won’t have to make cheese on Sunday, which would not only benefit the employees but also the neighbours. In our industry it is now almost common to do without Sunday production, especially since there is storage available for milk delivered on Sundays”, he says.
Thanks to the new expanded facilities the Gstaad dairy’s range of cheeses will be expanded somewhat with new products such as Gstaad mountain cheese made from pure Simmental milk. As far as exports are concerned, it is a matter of weighing up the opportunities and risks. “If we want to export cheese, we are in a different price segment from selling it domestically,” says Ryser. “It’s dangerous to produce cheese and sell it cheaply. It could work in the short and medium term, but in the long term it would be a risk for our business.”
Financing for the project has been secured. “A large part of it comes from the cooperative’s own resources,” explains Romang. In addition, the project is being financed via an interest-free loan from the Bernese Foundation for Agricultural Credits and subsidies granted by the confederation, canton, and municipality. “No bank loan is planned at the moment,” says Romang.
Gstaad’s dairy shop remains open
The site of the current dairy in the centre of Gstaad, which is owned by the cooperative, is over 50 years old and in need of renovation. “The new site will free up a lot of space in the existing building and we will have to consider what to do with it or perhaps even with the entire building,” said Romang. Despite the uncertainty, the shop will continue to be run as usual until further notice.
Anne Christine Kempton / AvS