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Urnerboden, an example of how mountain food products benefit small villages in the Alps

Urnerboden is a small village located in the Alps in Switzerland. As many other mountain villages Unerboden was facing several difficulties in terms of unemployment, business and depopulation. These problems got worse when milk prices starting to rise due to high transport costs.

 Farmers realized that they had to be innovative and find solutions, thus, they started working together to solve these problems. They agreed that adding value to their milk was the best way. After considering different options, they decided to develop a plan called “Vision fromagerie Urnerboden”. This project was also supported by the different levels of local authorities and the URI Company.

 The implementation of the plan consisted in setting up a cheese factory to manufacture milk provided by local farmers and transform it into cheese. Different dairy products are produced such as the alpine 7 kilo raw milk hard cheese typical of the region, cheeses for raclette, yoghurts and alpine cream.

The project, which is in the planning stage since 2007, is starting to be consolidated little by little. In the summer of 2014 up to 1.2 million liters of Alpine milk were processed into Alpine cheese. One of the most important characteristics of this manufacture is that Alpine cheese is a protected term which means that exclusively Alpine milk is used and processed into Alpine cheese. In addition, the processing must be carried out also in the alpine pastures.

 Nowadays, thanks to this cheese factory and to all the farmers involved, 3 persons have a full-time job. The factory also represents an example of sustainability in terms of energy as it uses timber coming from the local forests as source of energy. It also promotes the preservation of transhumance and other cultural heritage aspects and together with the sales of the cheese in Urnerboden, stimulates synergies in tourism and benefits the businesses in the area.

 For further information about the cheese factory, please click here (only available in German)

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3 July 2015

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