Laiterie d’Orsieres, the new milk factory

 

Laiterie d’Orsieres, the new milk factoryOrsi­ères, located in the heart of the Valaisan Entremont region, has a new milk factory since September 2020. A milk factory which is more than just a milk factory, but a nice example of a rural experience linked to agrotourism:

  • A modern state of the art production facility for milk and other dairy products including the famous raclette cheeses
  • A shop selling local products produced in the ‘laiterie’ and from the region
  • A café-restaurant specialised in raclette and cheese dishes among other regional specialties
  • An experience centre in which visitors can learn about cheese and milk production as well as other elements of local agriculture
  • Polyvalent space which can be used as venue for seminars, meetings, or parties
  • And a 24/7 vending machine for those who need raclette cheese urgently

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View into the factory, cheese production in progress

Situated just before the northern entrance of Orsières settlement on the Grand Saint-Bernard main road connecting to Italy, it is well accessible to locals as well as visitors either staying in the region or in transit.

Those who are familiar with the Entremont region know the importance of cows in the local alpine agriculture, the black Herens cows which graze the high alpine meadows in summer. Geographical mountainous conditions result in a pattern of very small-scale farming compared to international standards. Farming, especially cattle farming of which Herens cows are a determining identity, is a key feature of local culture. Thanks to local farming and herds of cows grazing the alpine meadows, we can enjoy the alpine landscape as it is today with grazing cows preventing the alpine meadows to degenerate.

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Herens cow in the fields near Orsieres

The days that each village in the valley had its own milk factory are something of the past. In Orsières municipality, village milk factories in Val Ferret and on the slopes up to Champex merged into the milk factory of Somlaproz in the 1960s, and hamlets o the other side of Orsières organised their dairy production in the milk factory in Orsières.  Too small scale for todays economic conditions, the milk factories of Orsières and Somlaproz merged in 2017 with the intention to create a new modern facility. Supported by the PRD Regional Development Program Grand Entremont, the new milk factory opened its doors in September 2020, replacing the dated Orsières and Somlaproz facilities. It has been good to see that locals and visitors found their way to the laiterie in the first months after opening despite all Covid-restrictions.

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AOP cheeses ripening in the cellar

The new modern facility has an annual capacity of 1.4 million kg milk, and 26,000 pieces of AOP round cheese. The milk factory has its own air-conditioned cheese-ripening cellar with a capacity of 20,000 pieces, with the latest generation robot technology able to turn the cheeses periodically. Total investment was CHF 6.5 million, of which CHF 3 million support sourced by the PDR Regional Development Program.

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Milk factory shop

The result is a modern and viable milk factory able to process the dairy output of the local alpine agriculture as well as an experience centre and meeting place where visitors and locals can learn about the local alpine agriculture, milk and cheese production, and enjoy the regional products. A new destination to visit for Orsières. And a nice example of how to connect agriculture and food processing with experience and education.

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And time to enjoy!

Laiterie d’Orsieres: Route du Grand Saint-Bernard 3, 1937 Orsières; //laiterie-orsieres.ch/