In the field observation carried out in some Bulgarian dairy farms at a different scale of production, some specific behavioral trends in the last two to three years are revealed:
- • There is a decrease of 20% to 25% in the market share of the imported dairy products instead of the domestic dairy products.
- • A strong consumer demand for ecological and organic dairy products. This tendency is based on increased consumer consciousness and new consumer lifestyle patterns.
- 2 http://www.usdairy.eom/product-categories/cheese#sthash.Kkj38cZJ.dpuf
• An increased consumer interest in traditional dairy products with purposeful demand for local specialties. Consumers tend to meet their producers in their native surroundings, and to see the place where their products originate, to be a part of the production process.
Case Study One: United Milk Company
United Milk Company (UMC) 3 is one of the leading companies on the dairy products market in Bulgaria since 1959. It has more than 50 years of experience in milk, yogurt, and Bulgarian cheese production. UMC inherited Serdika enterprises and its very best Bulgarian traditions in dairy production, with emphasis on natural and high-quality dairy products. UMC offers a variety of products in two areas: fresh milk products, UHT milk, and cheese products. Its priority is healthy dairy products. These include milk desserts with fruit pieces, low-fat yogurt “Vereya”-2% with Bulgarian fresh yeast Lactobacillus Bulgaricus and Streptococcus Termofilis, “Vereya-Calcium,” “Vereya- musli,” and milk and yogurt with 0.1% fats. UMC preserves the natural products best through its seven-level quality control system, which complies with the standards and regulations of the European food industry, as well as the GMP and HACCP systems for quality control, which guarantee the traceability of raw milk through the various stages of collection, processing, and delivery to the market:
- • Day-to-day testing in every milk farm
- • Independent lab test upon purchase of milk
- • Milk test upon loading and transportation
- • Test at factory's “entrance”
- • 170 daily physic-chemical, biochemical, and microbiological tests
- • Test upon packaging
- • Test at factory's “exit”
Quality is essential in the milk collection, manufacturing, and distribution processes. Over 170 analyses are carried out on a daily basis to ensure that only the highest-quality products reach the customers. Input control over the raw milk and materials guarantees that only approved materials will reach the production process. The technology of every processing stage is controlled. Every batch of products is controlled and analyzed, before reaching the customer.
The process of new product development follows the standard phases. In the R&D department, the new product development process gathers different specialists as: technologists, marketing specialists, laboratory testers, and so on, as well as company's suppliers and distributors. Referring to market research data, brainstorm method, and different product reports and analysis, the specialists generate and screen ideas during the initial stages of the new dairy product development. The idea assessment could proceed until the entire staff comes into agreement. The NPD process continues with concept testing carried out in focus groups. Thus, the consumer attitude toward the new product can be thoroughly inquired and observed. After precise business analysis, the product development stage follows. The recipes are laboratory tested, and degustation and production tests are carried out as well. The company provides degustation training itself. The package should pass three-step control, including requisite, text, and design approval. If the tests are passed successfully, next comes the product launch in the marketplace. To provide technological, commercial, and market accomplishment, the company makes huge investments in raw materials, production (modern technologies, fast and accurate analysis equipment, etc.), and transportation. This process of NPD is standard for all new products, with some variations.
In addition to traditional dairy products, the company has responded to the consumer requirements for healthy products by developing lower-fat and nutrient-rich dairy products that retain their traditional body and flavor. The company aims at ensuring socially responsible production that sustains growth and prevents human health lifelong. Moreover, United Milk Company actively engages in social activities, which aim at promoting and educating society on the benefits of healthy nutrition, as well as supporting the fight against osteoporosis. Health-focused products include lower-fat milk, fresh cheese, and calcium-fortified yogurt, with the goal of retaining functional and safety characteristics of traditional products.