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"SirCro" – Croatian Alliance of small-cale Cheese Makers

Development of “SirCro”

With the assistance of the Agricultural Advisory Service, ten county associations of cheese producers were established throughout Croatia during 2006. All of them joined together to a national association, the Croatian Alliance of the Small Cheese Makers „SirCro“ on January 22th, 2007.
The main goals and reasons for founding our national association were promoting, improving, developping and protecting the production and consumption of raw milk cheeses and dairy products made on farmsite or artisanal throughout the Republic of Croatia.
To achieve these goals we implemented the following activities:

  • Holding lectures and courses on milk production and processing
  • Creating traceability control plans and guidelines to good hygiene practices
  • Organizing practical presentations / workshops / demonstrations / exhibitions / competitions
  • Promotional activities

Achievements and activities

From 2009 until today, “SirCro” organized nine national conferences for small-scale cheesemakers (members as well as other cheese producers in Croatia) with complementary markets on the main square in our capital Zagreb. Main topics of these conferences have been for example:

  • Shelf life studies on raw milk fresh cheese and cream
  • Nutritional value and utilization of whey
  • Legislation on milk processing and facility approval
  • Labelling of dairy products and nutrinational labelling
  • Good hygiene practices
  • Milk quality for processing
  • Udder diseases and many more

Furthermore, “SirCro” held regional and national cheese competitions in the last four years. Regional competition were organized in six different cities across Croatia.

In collaboration with different scientific institutions (Agricultural and Veterinary Faculty as well as the Faculty of Food Technology), we conducted a study on compliances with the criteria on Listeria monocytogenes for three types of the Croatian cheeses, running from 2015 to 2017.

One of the most significant activities for our members was the implementation of the Guideline on Good Hygiene Practices in small-scale dairies in 2012, which had been positively evaluated by the Veterinary directorate in the same year.
Other important activities are:

  • Permanent cooperation and meetings with the competent authorities
  • Organization of expert excursions (so far we visited cheesemakers in Slovenia, Bosnia, Switzerland and Austria)
  • Participation in the Internationale Käsiade in Hopfgarten (Tirol, Austria) in 2014 (Käsiade is organized every other year)
  • Setting up two chesse roads (Chesse road Karlovac county and Chesse road Zagreb county), and finalizing the plan of a Croatian cheese road

Benefits for members

All members are allowed to participate with three cheeses in the regional and national cheese competition for free. They can also participate free of charge in the annual conference.

Any member who needs a guide on good hygiene practices for their facility, will get it free from our technical experts in the Alliance. They also receive help with any other problem, especially such with inspectors. All these problems, the Alliance trys to resolve by discussions and meetings with the competent authorities.

Members of the alliance

Originally, members of SirCro were only the county associations, that had their own membership for cheese and other dairy producers. Since 2015 we amended by statutes and permitted membership of individual producers, for County associations did not all survive. Today, the Alliance counts three county associations with together 40 members (all farmhouse cheesemakers) and three individual cheesemakers (two of them farmhouse and one artisan cheesemaker). The county associations pay an annual membership fee for their members. Individual members pay for themselves. Technical experts and scientists are also welcome members. Their work supports the promotion, improvement, development and protection of the production and consumption of (raw milk) cheeses and dairy products.

We are planning by different means to increase the number of individual cheesemaker in the next few years.

Every year “SirCro” holds a general assembly. Each county association has three representatives in that general assembly. Additionally, in all other counties where there are no county associations, the cheesemakers elect one representative among themselves for every ten individual members. The Alliance is chaired by a president and two secretaries (technical and economic), who are elected by all members of the assembly every four years.

The current President of the Alliance is Romina Zadravec (view picture right side) who has a small, family-run dairy farm with 16 cows and milk processing facility. She produces different types of semi-hard cheese, cheese with spices and smoked cheese, yogurt, fresh cheese and cream. She also produces our brand “Zagrebački friški kravlji sir ZG Sirek” (“Zagreb fresh cow cheese ZG Sirek”). ZG Sirek is a typical farmhouse cheese in the central region of Croatia (wider area of the capital city of Zagreb), produced only by a natural acidification and coagulation of raw milk, i.e. without the addition of starter culture and rennet. This fresh cheese is salted and then dried in a warm place (in summer outside in sheltered nets, in winter indoors above a fireplace).

Raw milk situation

  • Sale of raw milk at farm, selling via automat, customer delivery within 50 km radius
  • Sale of raw milk cheese without restrictions  –  28 November 2021