On Saturday, July 9, Danone Romania held the Open Gates Day at the factory located on Nicolae Canea Street in Bucharest. A large number of people have been interested in this action, visiting the factory being performed in an organized manner, in groups not exceeding 20 people. Since the demand has far exceeded expectations, the Danone team will soon announce a new date for visiting the factory.
At the beginning, we were familiarized with Danone. “Raw material is milk and we wish a quality product. We had to make an investment in this raw material, too. How did we do it? By investing in big farms, as well as in small farms, by bringing thoroughbred cows, by investing in technology and in milking equipment. We have a project started in 2012 in Zimnicea with the small farmers, to which were offered little cows for free, trainings – because we have to know how to product and maintain quality until the gate of the factory, milking stations, cooling equipment”, stated the Danone Quality Engineer, Mrs. Elena Sandu.
First Danone yogurts were produced in Barcelona in 1919 and they were sold in pharmacies as a cure for children suffering from digestive problems at that time.
In Romania, the Danone factory was built in 1997 on the structure of the old dairy factory Miorita Fundeni. 160 employees are working in shifts, producing 1 million yogurts per day, meaning 90 percent of the total of the dairy sold in Romania, as well as in other 12 countries in Europe, “which represents a great sign of appreciation. It’s difficult to reach other markets, especially with perishable, and that’s a great figure of merit for this factory”, said Cornel Petrache, the Danone manager. The factory is using over 50 million liters of milk, collected from the Romanian farmers.
“Quality has a specific meaning for each of us. During the today visit you will find out what quality means to us. Starting with raw milk, continuing with processes, standards, technologies, all these things mean quality to us. I would add here ferments, as well as fruits we are using. The yogurt category is very large, starting with simple yogurts containing only milk and ferments, yogurts with a different content of fat – protein, to a range of yogurts with fruits as a dessert. We have a recommendation for each moment of the day”, said Cornel Petrache.
The tour of the factory included 3 key areas for the manufacturing process: the processing area which is the central point, namely the control point where yogurt is made, the packaging area and the post-packaging area, or the palletizing area. Visitors were explained step by step how milk turns into yogurt. First, the milk is tested. “If one of the parameters is not ok, the milk leaves from us”, said the factory manager. Over 1600 lab tests are done in the factory’s laboratory. Milk does not interact with air within the factory, and even less with the human factor. The work is performed in perfect hygiene conditions, with quality ingredients and through a manufacturing process extremely well controlled.
The milk goes step by step through filtering and pasteurization processes – by maintaining the 95-degree temperature for 5 minutes, in order to subsequently add the ferment, the lactic culture. Danone is using 4,000 lactic cultures, specific to each type of yogurt, obtained in 100 years of the producer’s research. For yogurts with fruits, we add quality jams.
Besides milk, we check from time to time the air in the packaging equipment, which has to be sterile, as well as the packages and the final product, before sending it to the consumers.
In the last visit point, the palletizing area, we were familiarized with the two industrial robots, “Vasilica” and “Spider-Man”, who were baptized by the factory employees, and who perform the placing operation of the products on the pallets and also the wrapping of the products. Subsequently, the pallets are labeled, introduced in the fermentation room at 42 degrees for 5 hours, after which they are stored for at least 24 hours at 4-6 degrees, until they leave to the chains of stores.
It was an interesting and educational visit, which I hope it will turn into a tradition, as the General Manager for Danone Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Adriatic Countries, Adrian Pascu, promised.