Jura Journal Part 9

Monday, April 11, 2016

Monts et Terroir cheese aging cellar Eric Chevalier (marketing perspective)

At the enterprise of Monts et Terroir de merveilleux fromage, Eric serves as the director of inter-professional and exterior relations for comte. Eric is the son of a dairy farmer. He did not want to take over the farm, but rather he possessed an in knowing how milk was transported. He went to the NEEL school (Institut NEEL) in Aix en Provence, and afterwards worked at  Clareti Transaction Control (CTC) helping cheese makers improve the quality of cheese between the cheese and the region. Monts et Terroir is a French term defined as mountains and territories, is the biggest producer of Comte per year at 19,000 tons. He also works with other cheeses in the Savoie Alps region.

Monts et Terroir is a private company where 65% of capital is held by Sodial, a supply company that produces for General Electrics and Yoplait, the remaining 35% of the capital is owned by dairy farms and other actors within Comté. The enterprise grew out of a collaboration of other smaller enterprises in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Their responsibilities included selling pre-packaged cheese in supermarkets. The Cahier des clauses administratives particulières (CCAP) started in 1954, where the cheese agers (affineurs) aged and commercialized the cheese. The CCAP is a document that basically allowed cheese to be sold in a private market. In continuing the tradition of Comte, in the early 1980’s, the family Abeille fused with local cheese agers (affineurs), in Jura mont and started the current site in Jura, by the end of the 1980’s the family bought what is now ENTRE-MONT. In 1992 a family called Gojon became owners of guyere cheese. In 2010 and 2011 the cooperative “sodial group” put value on the milk in the region.  They valorized the milk so that it can have a better commercial network to get a chance in a bigger market; the objective was to massif production and reduce cost so you can profit. Selling the product as it exists by Comte chain in a way that every worker in the chain can live well is important in maintaining employment for Comte workers.  The pay rate in the region of Comte is as follows: 500 euros/ 1000L of Comte in Comte, however it is 300 euros/ 1000L of Comte in other regions. Equally distributing jobs and maintaining jobs in the rural areas, while maintaining the quality of cheese is a strong value for Comte.

The evolution of the enterprise is an evolution in itself. 35000 tons to 65000 tons of cheese have been produced over 25 years. There are less farmers today than before due to robots taking over partial labor. There has been a lot of tension arising in with farmers about milking machines; however, hey are used at Comte only for the purpose of turning over cheeses in the age cellars. The first objective of comte is to determine values. According to Eric, The hands of men and women who make products are important. For example, farmers should be taking care of the animals on the farm, cheese makers have to learn the art of making cheese (putting the hands in cheese to check formation), for the raw milk, has are needed to make artisanal cheese. The CTC is a specialized branch created within Comte, they go into the fromageries, or cheese makers and refine their practices. Comte prides itself in maintaining diversity and richness. They do not care about making a standard cheese like other cheese company’s. They care about maintaining the diversity of farmers, cheesemakers and affineurs. The Comité Inerprofessionnel de Gestion du Comté (CIGC) is a regulating committee board within Comté. They are a collective image that is defined within the Comte chain and they bring the Comte to the market.

Eric informed us that marketing is about what people want to hear; however, Comte always try to communicate what they do, and avoids talking about what the customer wants to hear. He affirmed that this message that they are producing, is converging with what consumers want to hear since there exists a trend where consumers are concerned about what is in their food.

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