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When we as farmers stand up, we give the products a face.

Hanspeter Schmitz, Dairy farmer
Hanspeter Schmitz,

Dairy farmer

Emmi calls on farmers to register as ambassadors. It’s good to see how many farmers are committed to Emmi. There are various reasons for our focus on suppliers of raw materials. Everyone can benefit from this. Including consumers.

“When I’m in a restaurant and get a portion of coffee cream that isn’t from Emmi, I go to the kitchen, say thank you for the good meal and tell the chef that only Emmi cream contains milk from this region.” Hanspeter Schmitz is sitting in the living room of his farmhouse having breakfast with his wife Käthi, son Alexander and apprentice Brian Trösch. The 60 dairy cows have been milked; in half an hour, a tanker will arrive that collects around 1,500 litres of milk a day and then delivers it later to Emmi, usually in Ostermundigen.

 

Showing what we do

The Bernese farmer is a committed Emmi ambassador, and has been for a long time. He not only gently educates people about consuming preferably local – Emmi – products, but has also ensured for more than a decade that around 500 cups of Caffè Latte are distributed to the public at the autumn cow parade by the municipality of Wiedlisbach (canton of Berne). “It’s important to show people what our milk is used to make.”

 

Stronger together

Hanspeter Schmitz was one of the first farmers to commit to being an Emmi ambassador. Instead of complaining about the milk price and blaming milk processors for injustices in agriculture, he prefers to stress the positive aspects of the collaboration.

“Of course, the milk price could be better, but this is ultimately determined by the market rather than Emmi. If we want to survive, then we have to be able to sell our milk. That happens through the products that Emmi makes.” So he views it as a matter of give and take. “When we as farmers stand up, we give the products a face. So consumers see who’s behind the yogurt, cheese or Energy Milk. That builds trust, which is exactly what we need.”

 

Creating a positive image

There also needs to be trust between the farmers and Emmi. “We want to use this initiative to show unity and strengthen the partnership between raw material supplier and processor”, says Nancy Keller, who is in charge of the “Farmers as ambassadors” project. For Manuel Hauser, Head of Purchasing Switzerland, it is a matter of making connections visible. “Milk repeatedly comes in for criticism. Consumption is falling. When we show where the milk comes from and present a reliable picture of how good the quality is, this helps to create a positive image.”

 

More than an industrial product

The aim is a type of “supplier marketing”; the origin of our raw material should be loaded with emotions. “There’s a degree of distrust as regards a brand like ours”, says Reto Hübscher, Head of Milk Purchasing. “We’re big, so we’re seen as the ‘bad guys’. Many people aren’t aware that we don’t only make industrial products. When visitors come to the cheese-ageing cave in Kaltbach, they’re amazed and say: ‘Wow, it isn’t just a marketing gimmick, it’s real!’” He adds that it is therefore important to convey that dairy farmers, their families and animals are behind the milk.

This approach also meets with approval among retailers: “We welcome Emmi giving its products a face”, says Yves Grüninger, Category Manager Dairy Products/Eggs at Coop. “Customers now increasingly want to know where their groceries come from and who made them. We also take this need into account, for example through our Coop Naturaplan and Miini Region own brands.”

 

Difficult relationship

Demands in terms of sustainability, animal husbandry, environmental protection and the origin of feed come not only from retailers, but also from consumers – and from Emmi itself. “Ultimately, we’re involved when it comes to implementation of these”, says Reto Hübscher. “We’re the ones who make demands of the farmers.” Clearly, this doesn’t always make Emmi popular – and some people have to choke back their anger. This is aggravated by the bone of contention that is the milk price, “although independent figures show that we pay an above-average milk price.”

Our milk suppliers

Emmi is the largest milk processor in Switzerland. This is thanks not only to the just under 3,000 employees – spread across 25 sites in Switzerland –but also more than 6,000 dairy farmers, from Aargau to Zug. One hundred of these dairy farmers are now introducing themselves and their farms. They are proud ambassadors for their milk and the products that Emmi makes from it.

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