Leartiker Dairy Centre’s activity is non-stop throughout the 12 months that complete the year. The work dynamic absorbs so much of the day-to-day that we often lack time to stop and realise everything we do in this exciting world of dairy products. Therefore, one of the New Year’s resolutions has been to look back and savour all the work we have done during 2023.

Leartiker Esneki Zentroa, the first Dairy Centre in the Basque Country, was born around this time three years ago in collaboration with HAZI and the Basque Government, and because of a long trajectory of almost 15 years within the specialisation of the Leartiker dairy sector. Its birth was a great milestone for the dairy sector in the Basque Country, becoming a reference centre where producers go to carry out technical consultations, training, carry out innovation projects and, above all, do so in a personalised, efficient, and collaborative way. The data speaks for itself. This last year we carried out around twenty R+D+i projects, some of them aimed at developing innovative products in collaboration with dairies, and others, internal projects, to continue generating knowledge on dairy technologies, safety, digitalisation, circular economy, microbiological quality, and technological capabilities of milk, among others.


R+D+i projects.

The collaboration and personalised treatment we offer are one of the most important pillars for a Basque dairy sector that is artisanal; traditional, made up of small producers, which is committed to a sustainable, local, healthy food model, based on km0, offering traditional products, trustworthy products rooted in culture and tradition. We have the confidence of the producers who come to us for advice, such as the 22 dairies that, interested in controlling their quality processes, have decided to hire our services to work on the design of quality self-control plans. Or the almost 100 people who participated over the last year in the various specialized trainings we have offered; Personalized courses for professionals in the sector related to technology applied to different cheeses and dairy products… and the agreement we have with MONS, a world leader in cheese ripening with which we have already planned a new range of courses for 2024.

Our commitment to collaboration is latent in all aspects of the Centre’s work. There are the producers themselves with whom we have an almost familial bond, but we also have a large network of associations, entities, and agents with whom we actively participate to have an up-to-date knowledge of the situation of the dairy sector, contribute our knowledge and continue to strengthen our position within this sector. We participate in Basque Government forums such as the Security Roundtable, the specific forum for “Food and Health”, in the operational groups aligned with the RIS3 smart specialisation strategy, and in ELlKA, the Basque Foundation for Agri-Food Safety. But we also have alliances with other Basque agents such as HAZI Fundazioa, Eliker, Mantala Gastronomy, and associations such as QueRed (Spanish Network of Field Cheese and Artisan Cheese Makers), Facenetwork (Farmhouse and Artisan Cheese and Dairy Producers European Network) and the recently created Euskal Esnekigileen Elkartea / Association of Basque Dairy Producers (EEE), of which we are responsible for technical assistance.


FACEnetwork (Switzerland) and cheese and dairy tasting session in Busturia (Basque Country).

Basque cheese culture

Cheese culture in the Basque Country is growing, and this is largely due to the fact that small dairies are beginning to innovate and produce new varieties of cheese and dairy products, thus providing our markets with an increasingly wide and varied range of Km0 artisan dairy products. Thanks to this, this past year we had the opportunity to participate in several cheese and dairy tasting sessions aimed at different social agents and consumers: Basque Gastronomy Meeting organized by Mantala Gastronomy in Busturia, presentation of the Basque cheese guide through a guided tasting in Vitoria- Gasteiz and several tasting sessions with producers who present their new products at fairs and specific actions (Errezil, Igeldo, …).

Basque Cheese Guide.

Fairs & Championships

Speaking of variety, we cannot forget the special ESNEKI fair that was held in Tolosa (Gipuzkoa), a meeting point for professionals, producers and cheese and dairy products lovers, which this year has celebrated its second edition. Esneki Zentroa is one of the organisers of this event that brings together a wide variety of cheeses and dairy products from the Basque Country and where the best Basque cheese is chosen thanks to the Basque Cheese and Dairy Competition. Last year, 85 cheeses took part in this great event with a jury made up of 30 people representing the sector: technical staff, researchers, managers of specialised shops, heads of distribution chains, gourmets, chefs, and communicators, among others.

The Championship of the best cheeses in Spain, GOURMETQUESOS, is another of the events to which the Dairy Centre does not miss, where it has been participating as a jury since 2015. But in 2023, we had the great opportunity to participate as a jury in another cheese championship in Hungary, the Hungarian Cheese Championship.


ESNEKI fair.

Getting to know other cheese realities in the World

The invitation to attend the Hungarian cheese competition came from the Association of Hungarian Artisan Cheese Dairies with whom we shared a great experience, getting to know the reality of the sector in that country and learning from other different references that help us to increase our knowledge and identify new challenges in the short and long term. Another similar experience was the one we had at the end of the year thanks to the invitation we received from the newly created Latin American Association of Artisan Dairies (ALQA) to come to the province of Buenos Aires (Argentina) for the first meeting they were organising. A great adventure that allowed us to get to know their reality, their producers, and their wonderful creations.

Our international forays have also taken us to England, where we visited dairies and specialised cheese shops, and to Switzerland, where we attended the annual meeting of the European association FACEnetwork of which we are a member and where we also visited local dairies and taken part in workshops and technical conferences.

The work we do at our Dairy Centre is extensive and varied. The satisfaction of a job well done gives us the strength to face another year in which we will continue to be close to producers and the dairy sector, looking for solutions to the needs that arise, knowing our reality and the challenges we face, and looking for the most appropriate solutions to find a way out of all these challenges by collaborating and giving our best.


Some pictures from our visits.

2024, we’re ready to continue dairying!