The honey is still winding its way down the scoop of yogurt as it is placed before you at the beachside taverna. Sweet, creamy and fresh, it’s just the job to start another slow day in the sun.
While Greek yoghurt is often associated with a relaxing break, it’s production at the Kri Kri dairy is a tightly controlled and speedy business with no time to lose in processing the locally sourced milk arriving from farms in the hills above the production plant in Serres, Northern Greece.
The modern production has come a long way from the origins in a humble pastry shop in 1954, but the attention on fresh quality milk remains at the heart of production. For instance, milk is collected early in the morning from local farms so that there is no need for milk storage. And because the milk arrives at the plant within a few hours, only one pasteurization is needed, ensuring a high nutritional value of the milk and the yoghurt made from it.
This production starts immediately and the whole process is completed, with the yoghurt sealed in pots, in less than 24 hours.
Bacteria spotted by laser light
An important aspect of the process is to get things right from the start. This includes a rapid check for hygiene quality in the modern laboratory as it arrives at the site, allowing the milk to move swiftly on downstream to the waiting process facilities.
The plant has invested in new analytical equipment using so-called flow cytometry technology for counting bacteria and somatic cells in the raw milk. It saves a lot of time compared to traditional testing methods. Taking just ten minutes, the analyser incubates a sample of milk and then uses a laser to count individual bacteria and somatic cells that determine the hygiene quality and subsequent suitability for processing.
The right milk for the job
Another piece of analysis equipment uses infrared light to test the compositional character of the milk. Using a technology called Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) it checks a sample and delivers results for several compositional characteristics of the milk such as protein, milk fat content and more all in one go and within a minute.
The lab work not only checks the quality of raw milk used in production. It also provides valuable feedback to farmers about their deliveries to strive for continuous improvement in the supply chain. This will no doubt boost the ever-growing global popularity of Greek yoghurt, whether you enjoy it by the shores of the Aegean or curled up on the sofa on a dark winter day.
For more about how the controls work, see our video interview with quality control and production professionals from the production site in Serres.