Petko Katzarov: “My production has become more efficient with the Green Investment”

November 15, 2013

An example of how new energy efficient technologies can be successfully introduced and implemented in production is Helios Milk. The company, which has been active for nearly 20 years, produces and distributes processed and cream cheese and other dairy products. It is one of the few food manufacturers in the Burgas region and its base in the industrial area of Aitos provides excellent conditions for production.

In recent years, Helios Milk has invested in technologies for new products. The company has built good relationships with suppliers and clients, as well as with the major retail chains. In addition to its presence in the Bulgarian market, Helios Milk also exports to Romania.

The company’s product range includes several varieties of processed and packaged cheese spreads, smoked cheese and cream cheese, as well as special fat-free products in four different flavours. The cream cheese is very successful in Romania and there are few similar products in Bulgaria.
Petko Katzarov, owner of Helios Milk, told us more about his company’s new energy-efficiency improvements.

You recently started installing new technologies. Helios Milk has invested in energy-efficient machinery, LPG forklifts, steam boilers and other equipment. What was the reason behind these investments?

Energy is expensive. This will become a major topic for discussion and a reason for investment by businesses in the future. It’s not just costly; we keep overloading the system with each new economic activity. Energy sources are not inexhaustible. I am a great lover of nature, I go hiking every weekend. I am convinced that current methods of energy production will in time become things of the past.

The fact that the sun has plenty of energy, much more than we consume, gives me hope. The technology for converting and using solar energy is constantly improving. One of the most effective uses of solar energy is for heating water. That is why we are preparing our business for the future by making investments in energy-efficient technologies.

What kind of improvements have you made in order to save energy?

Our production methods are based on thermal processing. In practice, heat conductors use preheated hot water and steam. With a loan from ProCredit, we installed a new solid fuel boiler and a system that heats up the water before it passes into the boiler. This means that it takes less energy to produce steam, as the water entering the boiler is already at a temperature of 50-60°C.

Our boiler burns wood chips and other solid fuel. A system feeds in the chips automatically, optimising the process. The chips do not need any additional processing. It is sufficient that they have the right humidity level for efficient burning.

Our experience so far shows that replacing liquid energy sources with solid fuel is more cost effective.

For our needs, we have also bought an automatic clip machine, a vacuum packaging machine, refrigeration equipment, an LPG forklift, all of them are energy efficient and their use has resulted in lower production costs. 

What production benefits do these new machines bring?

Cheese processing technology has changed a lot in the last 20 years. We regularly exchange know-how with our partners with regard to ingredients. Our partners are producers from leading countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland, and Germany – countries with long traditions and experience in the production of processed cheese. Our goal is to get as close as possible to the quality they offer. The raw materials available here differ from those in their countries, so we try to achieve a level that is as close as possible to the taste and quality of their processed cheeses, but using local dairy material.

Everything that we produce is tailored to the Bulgarian market, although we export a very small quantity of cheese to Romania. I would really like to sell our processed cheese abroad, but this is very difficult as the taste of our products is traditional and specific to Bulgaria, while the preferences of consumers abroad are different.

We have developed our own processed cheese recipe. It was a happy accident resulting from a technological mistake. The resulting product was very promising. We then further developed and refined it using relevant technologies. Besides processed cheese, cream cheese is another one of our main products. We also plan to start producing white brine cheese next year.

What is the most important factor in the quality of your products?

One must be consistent. Production in our region is underdeveloped. Working in a certain sector, you experience both good and bad years. For the 20 years during which Helios Milk has been in the market, most years have been difficult. They say that food is essential. However, competition in light industry is always high because with a relatively small investment anyone can start production. In our sector, you have to be committed and invest in order to grow.