Recently we had the opportunity to travel to Argentina and learn more about the reality of artisanal dairies in several Latin American countries. This trip coincided with the first meeting of the newly established Latin American Association of Artisan Dairies (ALQA, Asociación Latinoamericana de Queserías Artesanales), which was held in the city of Las Flores (Buenos Aires), and to which we were honoured to be invited. In addition to producers from different regions of Argentina, the event was also attended by producers from Mexico and Uruguay.
The place for this first meeting was no accident, since Santa Águeda is the place where the Dairy of Eduardo Zurro and Ana Rodríguez, the first Argentine dairy to be registered to produce sheep cheeses, is located. They brought the first Frisian sheep from Germany in the early 1990s. After three decades working hard to boost artisanal cheese production (shepherd’s cheeses made from sheep’s milk, although they have also worked with cow’s and goat’s milk in recent years), the pioneering couple formed by Eduardo and Ana are today a reference point in this sector and serve as an inspiration to other producers throughout Latin America. They have been the promoters of the creation of ALQA and some of its founding partners, which aims to defend and value artisan dairies in a market dominated by industrial cheese production. Eduardo Zurro is the president of the newly formed alliance.
ALQA Association has launched 37 partners. They produce all kinds of cheeses (pasta filata, lactic coagulation cheeses, cured cheeses, soft pasta, cooked pasta, etc.) and other dairy products with cow’s, sheep’s, goat’s and buffalo’s milk. They are dairies from 7 Latin American countries (Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico and Costa Rica). Belonging to an association that encompasses a wide variety of countries and products is a major challenge, which is why its objective is to have a place to share experiences, problems, technological solutions and to make Latin American artisanal cheeses visible within and outside their borders.
At the meeting in Las Flores, it was possible to taste the many varieties of cheese from the different dairies that had come, which demonstrated the richness of the variety of cheese produced by the different producers. The Santa Águeda dairy was also visited, as was the La Delfina dairy, a buffalo milk producer that makes different cheese and dairy products (proboleta, mozzarella, yoghurt, “dulce de leche” or milk jam, etc.). And of course, there was no shortage of wonderful Argentine burns, unique moments to share experiences and strengthen relationships.
After the meeting, our Argentinean adventure continued with other visits to 5 dairies in the province of Buenos Aires: Champ Elysées (inspired by French goat cheese), Chacra Alba Lana (inspired by Italian sheep cheese), Tambo de ovejas Weke (sheep), Tambo de cabras Valle de Goñi (goats) and Granja La Piedra (goat and cow cheeses). Thank you, Elise, Fernando, Gloria, Guillermo, Reggina, Horacio, Marina, Germán, Maria and Griselda for opening the doors and giving us the opportunity to meet your personal projects. The moments we shared with you have made our trip to Argentina a wonderful experience!
This trip to Argentina has enabled us to learn first-hand about the reality, short-term objectives, and technological needs of artisanal dairies in Latin America. In addition, we have shared with the producers the services we offer from the Dairy Centre to boost and improve the competitiveness of artisanal dairies. Connecting in person, exchanging experiences and exploring the areas in which we could collaborate opens the door to fascinating future projects. We are looking forward to that moment!