Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS


SMART-RIPE Report Summary

Project reference: 613827
Funded under: FP7-KBBE

Final Report Summary - SMART-RIPE (New ripening room monitoring technology for improving the efficiency and sustainability of cheese ripening processes)

Executive Summary:
SMARTRIPE was a two year applied collaborative project, which commenced in December 2013 and finished in November 2015, and was funded under the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and specifically under the “KBBE.2013.2.6-01: Exploitation of Framework Programme project results in food, health and well-being by small and medium-sized enterprises” programme.
The overall goal of the project was to exploit the results of the FP6 TRUEFOOD project, which focused on the introduction of new technologies for the elaboration of European Traditional Food Products, and covered a large range of activities, from consumer behaviour to food safety and nutritional impact. The improvement of ripening of traditional cheeses, involving microbial and processing approaches, was among the most significant results of TRUEFOOD. New control strategies of ripening rooms monitoring were studied, involving their sequential ventilation in order to reduce energy consumption.
In the SMARTRIPE project, access was provided to the TRUEFOOD results to enable prototype systems to be built based on an innovative combination of sensor technology and control software, with the aim of validating and demonstrating the concept of “sequential ventilation” of ripening rooms in order to save energy and to control cheese mass loss (cheese water evaporation).

In terms of main results, the project delivered:
1. Consuming 40-60 % less energy during the ripening process. That will also heighten their cheese makers’ marketing edge by being positioned to target their cheese products at an increasing segment of the market and consumers that demand sustainable products that help to lower CO2 emissions and related impacts on climate change.
2. Being better equipped to attain high quality and market value for their end products. SMARTRIPE enables cheese makers to track and control the cheese mass loss (and cheese mass loss rate) to limit as much as possible the cheese mass loss during ripening without altering product quality.
3. Between 0.6% and 0.9% of cheese mass loss reduction, enabling cheese makers to improve cheese yield and their direct benefits.
4. Being better equipped to minimise waste and product loss. as the ripening process is in many cases the most critical step of cheese making in terms of bringing the cheese to its optimal maturity of flavour, texture and aroma, the ability to effectively monitor and control the process is fundamental to avoiding the incidences of having to discard low quality cheese which are unfit for sale. An improved knowledge of ripening room behaviour and an accurate control of working conditions are key factors to attain these goals.
5. Increased autonomy from the ripening rooms by being able to remotely monitor the process.
6. Environmental impact reduction by around 40%, which as mentioned, can be used as a selling point following the currently increasing environmental awareness.
7. Access to expand their initial investment to other ripening rooms, whereby the capital cost involved for extending the uptake of the system to monitoring additional ripening rooms will be very economical.
8. Market differentiation by up taking the SMARTRIPE technology, cheese producers will gain a competitive edge in a market that is increasingly demanding sustainable products that help to lower CO2 emissions and the impacts of climate change.

Project Context and Objectives:
The global cheese-making industry processes approximately one quarter of total raw milk production to create a variety of consumer cheeses, and cheese processing can be very energy-intensive. European cheese making, comprised mainly by SMEs is a centuries-old tradition that is an integral part of EU gastroculture.
Ripening refers to the final, and in many cases the most important, step of cheese-making—when the cheese is brought to its optimal maturity of flavour, texture and aroma. Once the cheese has been made it is stored in a maturing room to ripen for several days, weeks or months before the cheese goes to market. In order to effectively control the cheese ripening process and to obtain high-quality products, ripening takes place in large industrial ripening rooms in which environmental conditions such as temperature and relative humidity are controlled. These rooms need an important air circulation to homogenize the conditions of cheese ripening and the quality of the ripened cheeses. This is achieved by applying forced ventilation in the ripening rooms, which results in high energy consumption.
Strategies for reducing costs associated with cheese ripening process were studied in the context of the previous FP6 TRUEFOOD project, in which the implementation of sequential ventilation in pilot ripening rooms resulted in significant energy savings without any detrimental effect on the final cheese quality. While the cheese quality was preserved, a significant reduction of electric power consumption was achieved.
SMARTRIPE project builds on previous knowledge acquired in the TRUEFOOD with the aim to further develop and demonstrate an advanced control system based on novel measurement cells and improved ripening room software control that is capable of implementing a sequential ventilation by applying advances in the field sensor technology, smart systems and wireless technology to create a new ripening room monitoring concepts that enable energy savings during cheese ripening while equipping cheese makers with appropriated tools and knowledge to improve the ripening process.
As the ripening conditions vary with the type of cheese, it is crucial to control climatic conditions in the ripening rooms to meet the specific requirements of individual cheese makers. Improvement of the ripening process often require adaptations of the ripening room based on empirical studies performed directly by scientists or engineers in close collaboration with cheese makers, which therefore remain confidential.
Some companies in the air-conditioning and refrigeration industry offer solutions to cheese makers involving hardware and software solutions for optimum air temperature and humidity control. However, the services provided are mainly focused on optimizing the efficiency of new ripening rooms as it is difficult to optimize operation conditions in the older ripening rooms in which the ripening factors are not controlled (or poorly) and air flow pattern is completely out of control (empirical conditions). Therefore, it is currently difficult for small and medium cheese makers to change the functioning conditions of their existing ripening rooms and to evaluate new strategies of ripening rooms monitoring.
The SMARTRIPE project aimed to provide the first commercial technology allowing accurate control and supervision of ripening rooms that can be used to apply new monitoring strategies that will help small and medium cheese makers to optimize their ripening process at a cost effective way, hence building competitive advantage.
To this end, the project specific objectives can be summarised as follows:
1. To review the specific technical requirements of the participating cheese-makers in function with their ripening room facilities and to consult regulatory and industry requirements in relation to cheese ripening during the definition of the specifications for the SMARTRIPE system.
2. To design and test “measurement cells” -Temperature (T), Relative Humidity (RH), CO2 content, electric consumption (P), and cheese weight (W)- and to improve the ripening room control software in order to monitor: (i) the determination of cheese respiratory activity, (ii) automatic sequential ventilation (SV), (iii) cheese mass loss progress, (iv) air renewal (AR) monitoring, (v) process supervision.
3. To develop an unique data display platform so that data from the ripening room can be displayed to the user in an ergonomic interface to enable local and remote monitoring.
4. To carry out live trials with the SMARTRIPE measurement and control system in industrial cheese ripening rooms in order to compare full time and sequential ripening room ventilation, to monitor air renewal, and to control the cheese mass loss.
5. To carry out cheese quality analysis with the cheese samples from the industrial trials in order to compare the microbial and biochemical evolution of cheeses ripened under full time or sequential ventilation, as well as of cheeses ripened under controlled conditions of mass loss, as well as to monitor the evolution of the appearance of the cheese.
6. To carry out an environmental, social and economic life-cycle assessment in line with the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook in order to facilitate efforts to demonstrate and communicate the benefits and impacts of the SMARTRIPE technology to industry, consumers and other stakeholders, such as policy-makers.
7. To make improvements to the prototype systems based on results of the industrial trials and, if necessary, based on the feedback from the cheese quality analysis.
8. To carefully manage the knowledge developed during the project and to develop an effective business plan for the commercial exploitation of the IPR.
9. To organise a comprehensive series of knowledge transfer sessions to the participating SMEs and to wider stakeholders from the industry value chain in order to train them on the functionality of the system and to showcase it to them in operation in commercial ripening rooms and to explain its benefits for energy savings and loss mass control.
10. To ensure the project results are widely disseminated to different target audiences in order to heighten the impact and without jeopardising their commercial exploitation.

Project Results:
The first target of the project to guarantee the success introduction of the technology in the industrial environment, the five cheese farms, was the research and in-depth exchanges between the 4 cheese maker partners and RTD performers, as well as solution providing SMEs. The aim was to get a clear understanding of the existing ripening room instrumentation, control and supervisory practices of the participant cheese-markers as well as the market and regulatory requirements in relation to cheese quality, safety and ripening conditions. It served to define the desired industrial specifications of the SMARTRIPE system that would fulfil the performance requirements of the users. A comprehensive literature and patent review ensured that all relevant research and developments in the area were identified.
SMARTRIPE system is divided is four levels of organisation allowing a right structure and balance to have an easy installation, use and maintenance: Sensors and Actuators, Local control, Supervision, and Remote control, see Annex 1.
After an extensive study of each ripening room and the type of cheese ripened five prototypes were installed in 5 ripening rooms among Europe (France (3), Greece and Ireland) for 5 different types of cheese (Fourme, Raclette, Cantal, Graviera, Cooleeney). Thanks to SMARTRIPE the cheese makers were able to follow the working conditions of the ripening rooms obtaining key information of the process progress allowing the improvement of its efficiency and the quality of cheese. The key measurements were the temperature, relative humidity, CO2 content, power consumption in the ripening room and the cheese mass evolution versus ripening time. The prototypes installed were able to manage a large range of different cheeses and of ripening processes. A lot of tests were conducted after their installation in order to obtain the expected measurement performances and the determination of parameters characterising the cheese ripening process as respiratory activity and cheese mass loss rate, which allowed to find how to improve the global system and the technical specific needs like the installation of nodes to improve electric consumption measurements or to suppress electric parasites. Finally, the measurement cells were accurately designed and successfully integrated allowing all the requested measurements.
In order to add innovative concepts, adaptations and developments were performed in the Programmable Logic Controller PLC and iCRIC_RT software, systems in charge to control and monitor the five measurement cells installed, what allowed cheese makers to improve the cheese ripening process using innovative control laws; determination of cheese respiratory activity, cheese mass loss, energy consumption, and the monitoring of sequential ventilation, air renewal, rate of cheese mass loss. iCRIC_RT was adapted to take into account different hardware configurations for each ripening room and to exhibit more reliability. As such, flexibility was one of the key features of the prototypes hardware to adapt to each ripening room. During the project, and thanks to the feedback of the end users, improvements were made to have more user friendly screens, to better manage the trials declaration or to offer to users a simplified access for modifying control parameters (set points, SV parameters, AR parameters...) among others.
As last step with the remote control to complete the SMARTRIPE architecture, an intuitive web user interface was developed to have remote access to the status of the ripening rooms and ensure that cheese makers can interact with the SMARTRIPE system in the easiest and most straightforward way. A gateway unit was set up for collection and transmission of data into a central server, such that measured data can be accessed from a web-based user interface; it consists of a server that is collecting data received from SMARTRIPE iCRIC_RT software installed in each "local supervision level" of each installation. The Web User Interface displays the values stored in the SMARTRIPE database in a user friendly format.
The SMARTRIPE platform was successfully created and tested to ensure that the communication between nodes, the gateway and the server work as expected and that the information is arriving error free. As with the iCRIC_RT software, thanks to the end-users feedback the platform were improved to ensure that the platform was well in line with their needs and expectations. The final SMARTRIPE User Interface is truly user-centric in its design, easy to use, and highly functional based on state-of-the-art web technologies, see Annex 2.
In order to study and quantify the effect of the new innovative monitoring conditions of cheese ripening rooms (Sequential Ventilation (SV) and Air Renewal (AR)), reference trials (performed in Continuous Ventilation - CV) and experimental trials (performed in Sequential Ventilation) were carried out for 4 different types of cheeses (Fourme, Raclette, Cantal, Graviera) ripened in the industrial ripening rooms.
Two modes of SV were studied:
• Temperature based Sequential Ventilation (TSV).
• Time based Sequential Ventilation, called SV50 when the ventilation is stopped 50% of ripening time.
The reduction of energy consumption was very impressive and the TSV mode led to higher reduction rates. However the TSV was not possible to be used for all ripening rooms because depending on the type of cheese and the conditions for its ripening, this mode created some defects in cheese quality. The final selected configuration was respectively the following:
• TSV for Fourme and Graviera.
• SV50 for Cantal and Raclette.
The final results of energy consumption reduction ranged between 40 and 60%. They corresponded to a reduction of electric energy consumption ranging from 7,000 and 40,000 kWh/year (and a reduction ranging up to 36% of the total factory consumption) depending on the cheese ripening needs and the size of the plant. The financial impacts can be considerably high especially for large cheese making plants equipped with number of ripening rooms.
In order to ensure the performance of the system in a big ripening room, two ripening trials were performed on Fourme in a larger ripening room in order to study the process scale-up (scale-up ratio = 1.55). The scale-up did not bring any particular difficulty and the performance of the system is very similar whatever the ripening room size.
The situation for Cooleeney was particular because the ripening room did not have air ventilation, air renewal and neither any equipment. As such, the objective was there to create new ripening conditions by applying continuous ventilation and a new monitoring system. During the SMARTRIPE installation a new design of the ripening room was performed adding a fan to create air circulation and an air heater. SMARTRIPE improved the ripening process removing one step in the normal process, which consists in ripening the cheese in two ripening rooms in two stages. Using the SMARTRIPE system the Cooleeney cheese is ripened in just one ripening room saving ripening time, human interaction and improving logistics due to the reduction of space needed.
According to the CO2 emissions measurements, just two cheeses, Fourme and Cooleeney, emitted significant CO2 concentration during ripening. The CO2 directly depends on the air renewal (AR), and the 2 ripening rooms emitting CO2, managed to handle these emissions by opening the door to remove the excess of CO2. The ripening rooms were monitored and controlled by the SMARTRIPE system and the results showed that the energy consumed by the AR is almost negligible validating this simple approach proposed.
The control of cheese mass loss was based on the utilisation of a balance connected to SMARTRIPE system to monitor the measurement of cheese mass evolution versus ripening time. Thanks to the measurements done the system provide very valuable information to the cheese makers to understand the ripening process: mass loss monitoring, different air velocities within the chamber, behaviour of the cheese in different locations of the chamber, behaviour of the cheese depending on the location within the racks or the shelves and how they are distributed, relative humidity versus mass loss, etc.
In order to further understand the behaviour of the air inside the ripening rooms, critical parameter, a campaign of determination of air velocity distribution in the 5 ripening rooms was carried out. This campaign demonstrated the in-homogeneities with the air distribution and reported the important differences of the air velocity in different locations, information essential to improve the performance of the ripening process.
Due to the different behaviour in air velocity and in order to have an accurate study of the mass loss, an extensive manual weighing campaign was done considering individual cheeses or racks of cheeses from different locations within the ripening rooms. Sequential ventilation (SV) of ripening rooms associated to a good control of air distribution brings an important increase in cheese ripening process productivity.
SMARTRIPE system and its Sequential Ventilation modes (TSV and SV50) provide a significant reduction of cheese mass loss, with values from 0.6% to 0.9%. In addition to the previously discussed benefits from energy consumption reduction, the mass loss reduction represents a significant increase of production yield, which translated into financial assets with a direct benefit of 6 500 €/year to 29 000 €/year per ripening room. These benefits could be increased if a cheese making plant is able to equip several ripening rooms.
During the installation of the SMARTRIPE system, trials and analysis of the results, and also thanks to the feedback of the end-users, some improvements of the system have been detected and planed to provide better final fully commercial product and solution within 2016.
The introduction of the SMARTRIPE system will not be possible without being able to demonstrate that it does not affect the main attribute during the cheese ripening process: the quality. After all analysis and work done we can state that the SMARTRIPE system does not create any negative implication on cheese quality. Indeed, all cheese samples collected during the industrial cheese ripening trials were analysed in order to:
• To determine microbial, chemical and biochemical parameters characterizing ripened cheeses (mainly at the end of the process) and their evolution versus ripening time in order to show if the new monitoring strategy could affect the ripening progress and the cheese quality and safety.
• To describe appearance, texture, odour and taste of fully ripened cheeses and their evolution versus ripening time in order to show if new monitoring strategies affect the cheese quality.

For each cheese type, when starting the ripening and in the fully ripened products, there was no detection of Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella. Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia coli were always under the maximum allowed concentration.
The evolution of some key microorganisms in the ripening microflora was studied for Fourme d’Ambert, and Graviera. For Graviera the air ventilation mode (temperature-based sequential ventilation (TSV) or continuous ventilation (CV) ripening program), did not have any significant effect on the evolution of the commercial starter culture strains and other beneficial spontaneous technological and/or ripening bacteria. Also in Graviera cheese, surface moulds and yeasts were insignificant (<100 cfu/g) during ripening. For Fourme d’Ambert, the growth of surface mould Penicillium roqueforti during ripening was not affected by the mode of ventilation.
Physicochemical and biochemical analysis (i.e. dry matter, salt content, pH, sugars and main organic acids, total nitrogen, water soluble (WSN) and acid soluble (ASN) nitrogen and non-protein nitrogen (NPN) fractions, free fatty acids, volatile compounds) were performed for each cheese type.
For Cooleeney cheese there was no effect of SMARTRIPE system on pH and sugar concentration. There was a positive effect on the ASN fraction (index of proteolysis) compared to the old (pre- Smart Ripe) conditions. For moisture, the new Smart Ripe conditions, compared with the old conditions, showed higher moisture retention in cheese, which was one of the aims of the project.
For Graviera and each of the French cheeses, physico-chemical and biochemical parameters (i.e. dry matter content, pH and sodium chloride concentration, ASN and NPN fractions, ammonium concentration, lipolytic indices, sugars and organic acids) showed that the evolution of ripening was not affected by ventilation mode (CV or SV) used.
Each cheese maker (SFL, SKARFI, COOLEENEY, CFP) trained a small panel (2 to 5 persons) in order to determine and quantify cheese appearance evolution versus ripening time, and mainly at the mature stage. Cheese appearance descriptors were chosen as a function of type of cheese considering the usual protocol used by the cheese makers, and the cheeses were assessed for appearance, texture, odour and taste. Hyperspectral imaging (HSI) was performed for Cooleeney cheese to monitor changes during ripening. A profile of volatile aroma components was carried out on French cheeses by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS).
For Camembert-style mould-ripened cheese (COOLEENEY) a sensory evaluation was performed on cheese at day 60. There was no adverse effect on cheese sensory properties, mould formation and texture development during ripening as a result of the application of the SMARTRIPE system.
Imaging techniques were performed so as to monitor changes in appearance and quality parameters. HSI was demonstrated to be a suitable technique for rapid measurement of cheese ripening indices and compositional parameters (moisture and pH).

For Graviera (SKARFI) cheese a complete panel sensory evaluation was performed after 60 and 90 days of ageing. The operation of the ripening room under TSV did not cause any negative sensory effects but contributed to slightly improving the sensory aspect of the mature cheeses under the ripening protocol applied at SKARFI.
For Fourme d’Ambert and Raclette, the sensory analysis was carried out on day 18 and day 56. For Cantal, the sensory analysis was performed on day 30 and day 60.
All of the French cheeses had no adverse effects on sensory attributes.
The aromatic profile was studied for cheese which was ripened under sequential ventilation, compared with continuous ventilation. The aromatic compound profile made by GC-MS of the 3 French cheeses was carried out at the end of ripening. An increased amount of aromatic compounds were found from the use of sequential ventilation (SV), compared with continuous ventilation (CV). This could be due to reduced evaporation of volatiles when the air was not flowing continuously. However, these effects did not translate into significant odour and taste differences.
In parallel with all analysis and trials done, an evaluation of the environmental and social impacts of the SMARTRIPE technology was done by conducting a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The LCA for the SMARTRIPE technology was focused on the benefits of this technology as compared to the traditional ripening process used by cheese producers. The SimaPro© 8.0 (PRé Consultants) was used as the primary modelling software; the ecoinvent database v3 with over 10,300 LCI (Life Cycle Information) Datasheet in the areas of energy supply, agriculture or biofuels and biomaterials among others, provided information on the “upstream” burdens associated with materials such as energy consumption. The impact categories studied were; Depletion of Abiotic Resources, Global Warming Potential, Ozone Depletion Potential, Photochemical Oxidant Formation, Acidification of Soil And Water, Eutrophication, Renewable Energy Consumption and Non Renewable Energy Consumption. The SMARTRIPE system does not need many devices so there is no big amount of heavy metals, and also the system does not need any logistics like provision of raw material, therefore the negative environmental impact of the system itself is very low, whilst the positive impact of the energy consumption reduction is huge.
The result of the Life Cycle Assessment is very positive: the introduction of the SMARTRIPE system leads ripening process to have an environmental impact reduction by around 40%, so that could create a new tendency or even governmental rule.
Having the positive environmental impact reduction and a positive financial result, thanks to the energy consumption reduction and the mass loss reduction, the Return of Investment (ROI) is lower than 1 year in the majority of the cases. Therefore the two benefits performing SV causes a direct and beneficial impact which creates a promising scenario to improve the competitiveness in Europe; having a better environmental impact, allowing the cheese producers to grow their business, and improving the areas where the factories are located, mainly rural areas.
Potential Impact:
SMARTRIPE project was built from previous knowledge acquired in the TRUEFOOD Project (Patent EP 07301084.5 and PCT/EP2008/056942) with the aim to further develop and demonstrate an advanced control system based on novel measurement cells and improved ripening room software control that is capable of implementing a sequential ventilation by applying advances in the field sensor technology, smart systems and wireless technology to create a new ripening room monitoring concept that will enable energy savings during cheese ripening while equipping cheese makers with appropriate tools and knowledge to improve the ripening process.
The ripening conditions vary depending the type of cheese and are determinant of the final quality of the cheese. It is therefore crucial to control both airflow, i.e. air velocity and renewal in new air, and climatic conditions in the ripening rooms to meet specific requirements of cheese makers. While relevant advances have been made in refrigeration and air conditioning technologies that aim to reduce energy consumption, there are numerous socio-economic impacts that will be derived by implementing SMARTRIPE as advanced control system.
The services provided by the potential competitors are usually limited to temperature measurement and relative humidity determination. The measurement of CO2 concentration is very rarely carried out and cheese mass loss is not mastered. The control consists in some automatic regulations (temperature of the cave, the cooling fluid, the refrigerated air...) and in alarms and security thresholds, and the supervision of the process consists in an overview of the process. Moreover, a review of commercially available systems has revealed that to date no commercial system is available on the market for implementing sequential ventilation in ripening rooms.
Through the uptake of the SMARTRIPE system cheese makers have access to customized cost-effective solutions for improving and controlling the efficiency of the ripening process. The key benefits of implementing SMARTRIPE in ripening rooms are:
• Reduced energy consumption (electric expenses) during the cheese ripening process, with significant savings in the overall cheese ripening process from 40% to 60%. It leads to financial benefits and at the same time targets the cheese products at an increasing segment of the market and consumers that demand sustainable products that help to lower CO2 emissions and related impacts on climate change.
• Improved cheese making yields through mass loss reduction (cheese water evaporation) without altering cheese quality, between 0.6% and 0.9%. It is a direct financial benefit for the cheese makers.
• Better equipment for new measurements and effective monitoring and control of the cheese ripening processes, which is fundamental for avoiding the incidences of having to discard low quality cheese which are unfit for sale; to minimise waste and product loss minimisation and quality maximisation.
• Remote control of the ripening room increasing the autonomy.
• Market differentiation- By up taking the SMARTRIPE technology, cheese producers will gain a competitive edge in a market that is increasingly demanding sustainable products that help to lower CO2 emissions and the impacts of climate change.
• Environmental impact reduction around 40% to be used as selling point following the currently increasing environmental awareness.
Although the benefits of the system are huge and even key for cheese makers, the balance between investment and benefits needs to be proven to promote the SMARTRIPE purchase. The return of investment (ROI) of the SMARTRIPE system investment was calculated based on the time needed to recover the investment to install the SMARTRIPE system in industrial ripening rooms. Once the investment is recovered, the mean monthly savings can be considered as benefit, which is the approximate sum of the mean monthly economies in energy consumption and cheese mass loss reduction.
The calculated ROI of the complete installation of the SMARTRIPE system is lower than 1 year for the following cases:
• New ripening rooms
• High production rates.
• Ripening rooms with 3 or less years old.
Having a very feasible ROI, combined with the fact it is the first commercial technology in the market allowing accurate control and supervision of ripening rooms that can be used to apply new monitoring strategies that will help small and medium cheese makers to optimize their ripening process in a cost effective way, hence building a competitive advantage, the market potential for the SMARTRIPE system is huge.
A market analysis done showed that milk production takes place in all EU Member States and represents a significant proportion of the value of EU agricultural output. For some Member States, it forms a very important part of the agricultural economy. Total EU 27 milk production was estimated around 152 tons per year in 2011, with the share in total production between Member States ranging from less than 1% to more than 20%. Looking at the main products made from milk, cheese has traditionally been considered the preferred outlet for milk from the European Union (EU) after local fresh-milk requirements have been satisfied. In 2011, 67 million tonnes of milk (whole milk, skimmed milk and buttermilk) were used to produce 9 million tonnes of cheese. Under one third (32,9%) of the whole milk that was utilized in the EU-28 in 2012 was converted into cheese, with butter accounting for the second highest proportion (29,4%), and just over a tenth of the whole milk utilised was used for drinking milk (13,3%) and for cream (13,0%). With the prospect of further growth in milk production after the termination of EU milk quotas in 2015, suppliers need to find new ways to deal with the new milk produced. Cheese production is therefore expected to absorb most of the additional milk produced, with output expected to increase by 7% on aggregate from 2011 to 2023, to reach 10,7 million tonnes, with exports close to 1 million tonnes and imports remaining very low, at around 75,000 tonnes. This represents 1,1% annual growth in production over the projection period. The expected good performance of European exports is based on the projections of international demand, which is expected to remain robust in China, South East Asia and Middle East Asia.
The cheese products market is highly fragmented, as there are many brands available in the market; however, very few have a significant market share. Some of the major players of the market are Lactalis, Kraft Foods Group Inc., Saputo Inc, Arla Foods Inc., Bongrain S.A., Fromageries Bel S.A. and Mondelez International Group (earlier Kraft). The market shares of the leading EU cheese players are largely stable. Private-label shares have gradually increased in Western Europe, from 20,5% in 2002 to 22.5% in 2009, while staying very low (around two per cent) in the growing Central and Eastern European cheese markets. Breakdown of cheese producers by size classes reveals a big number of small and medium enterprises that represent about half of the total turnover of cheese industry in the EU.
A survey from Eurostat on the dairy processing sector in Member States revealed that there were over 8,500 cheese manufacturing enterprises in Europe in 2012. Distribution by volume of annual productions indicated that 60% of the companies had an annual cheese production under 100 tonnes and 30% produced between 100 and 1000 tonnes per year. The majority of small cheese producers were located in Switzerland and Italy, where almost 70% of the cheese output is being produced by enterprises producing less than 4,000 tonnes per year. On the other end, cheese production in Germany is dominated by enterprises producing more than 4,000 tonnes annually.
Due to the diverse range of cheese products, the SMARTRIPE system proposal to the cheese makers is a turn-key solution that integrates engineering and software approach with a solid knowledge on the cheese ripening process. A high level of consulting is offered to costumer in every phase of the installation, from initial design to commissioning and maintenance. Hardware improvements, involving modifications of refrigeration and/or air conditioning installations to produce the specified conditions throughout the whole ripening room, are also offered guaranteeing the maximum efficiency of the system.
Based on the market research and the feedback received from cheese producers to date, estimation on the potential market impact of the SMARTRIPE system has been made based on the number of enterprises producing less than 10000 tonnes of cheese per year in France, Spain, Ireland and Greece, Belgium, UK, Italy and Switzerland, which will be the targeted markets during the first years of commercialization. The number of ripening rooms per company has been estimated based on the producing capacity. Altogether, it is predicted that the market potential is above 14,000 ripening rooms across the countries selected.
Taking into account the figures for the ROI and the market analysis we can conclude that there are two potential markets:
1. Market A. High probability in 7,351 ripening rooms (100 to 10000 tons) thanks to a return of investment lower than 1 year.
2. Market B. Medium probability in 7,426 for those RR with 3 or less years old.
It is predicted that 663 units could be installed by 2021, yielding an expected turnover of about €6M.

In terms of dissemination to support the future commercial prospects of the system, the target audience for the non-confidential information about the SMARTRIPE project were as follows:
a) Professionals / Industrial players from the cheese industry
b) Suppliers of technology and equipment to cheese making chain
c) Policy-makers & decision makers
d) Other market actors and stakeholders, such as the policy makers, regulatory and standards bodies
e) The academic/scientific community and early stage researchers, etc.
f) The general public/consumers
A communication strategy was in place throughout the project for effectively reaching each of these target audiences in keeping with their general profile and having an evaluation of the success of the dissemination, enabling the project to rely on indicators that helped to measure the exposure and effect of the communication campaign.
Over 34 dissemination activities have been conducted by the Consortium during the project lifetime, including participation at events, Web sites and publications addressed to industrial, scientific and general audience:
• 5 Articles in popular press
• 7 Scientific conferences (with Flyers in 2, poster in 1 and oral presentations in 3) + 1 workshop
• presentations to the industry
• Oral presentations to wider public
• Press releases
• 14 news on different partners and professional platform websites

Some of the high impact actions were:
• “The SMARTRIPE project: New ripening room monitoring technology for improving the efficiency and sustainability of cheese ripening processes.” Paper presented by NAGREF at Dairy Expo, Greece 3/11/2014. This expo is an excellent forum for targeting dairy industry personnel.
• “SMART RIPE - Novel technology to improve the sustainability of the cheese ripening process”. G. Keena, M. Zhao, D. O'Callaghan, C.P. O'Donnell, B. Perret, G. Corrieu, J Dumontel, and E. Arch (2015). 29th International Forum and Exhibition on Process Analytical Chemistry (IFPAC) Annual Meeting, 25 - 28 January, Washington, U.S.A. IFPAC is the main international forum for dairy process analytical technology and an excellent forum to target the dairy industry
• “Sequential ventilation reduces the energy consumption of the cheese ripening rooms”. G. Corrieu, B. Perret, J. Samelis, D. O'Callaghan, I. Llop, J. Dumontel, C.P. O'Donnell (2014). 28th Annual EFFoST / 7th Food Factory of the Future Conference, 26 - 28 November, Uppsala, Sweden. EFFOST is the main food science conference held annually in Europe and is an excellent conference for targeting and discussing research and industry personnel working in the dairy processing area.
• “Application of the improved Cheese Ripening Control (iCRiC) software to an industrial ripening room for Greek Graviera and similar traditional hard cheese varieties” J. Samelis, D. Pappas, A. Kakouri, E. Kartezini, B. Perret, G. Corrieu (2015). Oral presentation by J. Samelis of the results on Graviera cheese at SKARFI in the 3rd Dairy Expo, 7-9 November 2015, Athens, Greece.
• “Energy savings for EU cheese ripening” published on This website is targeting at European and global dairy industry personnel.

In addition to the Dissemination activities, extensive training activities were done in order to ensure the SME’s are prepared for the future post project use the results. The training done was focused in the practical functionalities of the SMARTRIPE system, its operational and performance considerations, giving to the end users a fully capability to operate with the system and understand the valuable outputs SMARTRIPE provides through the iCRIC-RT software and the remote platform. This training activities was a pragmatic demonstration that SMARTRIPE system is easy to understand, easy to use and its benefits are obtained in a very short time.
As example, and thanks to the knowledge transfer done, at the end of the trials, the project partner SKARFI with the collaboration of NAGREF among others made the following statements:
> Whatever the outside temperature is, TSV consumes far less than CV. The SMARTRIPE system leads to energy consumption reduction the whole year.
> After the trials using the SMARTRIPE system there is no doubt that the Continuous Ventilation mode is very expensive due to its energy consumption.
> Energy saving by TSV is really SIGNIFICANT and quite IMPRESSIVE.

The public website of the SMARTRIPE project ( has been a key instrument in the dissemination of non-confidential information on the project and its progress. The website consists of a public area that provides non-confidential information and news about the project and partners, the project objectives and socio-economic impact, significant developments, etc.
Thanks to the good results of the project and the benefits of SMARTRIPE applied in the industry the exploitation of the results are the following:
• Software to be set up inside of the PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) protected via the International Protection of authors' rights and Neighbouring Rights Agency
• iCRIC_RT software for ripening rooms local supervision (able to monitor all the ripening rooms in a cheese making plant) protected via the International Protection of authors' rights and Neighbouring Rights Agency
• Copyright with the Data Acquisition platform and ergonomic User Interface
• Publication about the New Knowledge for sequential ventilation
• Publications about the Knowledge from the laboratory analysis carried out to validate cheese quality
• SMARTRIPE trademark.
C2AP as a ripening room engineering company with expertise in industrial refrigeration and air conditioning technologies, they will install SMARTRIPE in the facilities of their existing customers, as well as in new ripening rooms to be installed. They will supply and service the SMARTRIPE system in France, Belgium, Switzerland, North-Africa and Francophone regions.
IRIS as an advanced process engineering company with vast expertise in offering turnkey solutions in the agro-food processing sector, they will supply and service the SMARTRIPE system worldwide with the exception of the regions covered by C2AP. Moreover, they will be the providers of the Data Acquisition Platform and User Interface, which will be sold as an add-on to the standard SMARTRIPE system.
BIOVAL as a company providing scientific and technical training and expertise in food engineering to food industry (mainly SMEs) they intend to support C2AP in the French and francophone markets by offering training and technical support to cheese makers that uptake the system in their facilities.
BIOSYSTEMS as a provider of engineering solutions to the Agri-food industry they will support IRIS in the installation and maintenance of the systems sold in Ireland, as well as in providing training in the use of the system.

List of Websites:
Joan Puig
Avda Carl Friedrich Gauss 11
08860 Castelldefels
Tel: 00 34 935542503
Fax: 00 34 935542511

Related information

Documents and Publications


Pradera, Carlos (Controller)
Tel.: +34935542500
Record Number: 184064 / Last updated on: 2016-06-03
Information source: SESAM