Dairy cooperative producing innovative heart friendly cheese
E-Piim plays a key role in Estonia’s agriculture sector. E-Piim (whose name is “E” for Estonia plus the Estonian word for “milk”) is a cooperative of 260 dairy farmers which was launched in 1998 and now has two production units, one in Põltsamaa which produces cheese and the other in Järva-Jaani which produces powdered milk and butter. In addition, E-Piim has subsidiaries, one of them in St. Petersburg.
Jaanus Murakas, Chairman of the Board, explains that E-Piim is run by and for dairy farmers, and the cooperative now achieves around €40 million in annual turnover. E-Piim exports 70% of its production, mainly to Russia, Finland and Italy but also to Germany, France and other countries.
A cheese that helps to maintain human cardiovascular system
E-Piim has established a reputation for cutting edge advances in the dairy products sector. It partnered with the Tartu University, Estonia’s Bio-Competence Centre of Healthy Dairy Products, and the Estonian University of Life Sciences to develop a patented, probiotic “heart friendly” cheese, Harmony, which won fi rst prize in the Finnish Quality Innovation of the year 2010 competition for innovative products.
Unlike other cheeses, Harmony cheese contains the probiotic L. plantarum TENSIA, which has been proven to benefit human cardiovascular system through reduction both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. E-Piim is the licensed producer of this revolutionary cheese, which it launched on the market in 2009.
The trademark probiotic L. plantarum TENSIA was isolated by researchers in the University of Tartu’s Department of Microbiology and is the proprietary strain of the Bio-Competence Centre of Healthy Dairy Products LLC. It meets all the criteria for probiotics established by the World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (2002): it is of human origin, the strain was identifi ed using biochemical and molecular techniques, and it has been deposited in an international collection of cultures. The strain TENSIA works as a natural antimicrobial agent in cheese. The safety of the probiotic strain TENSIA has been tested in vitro, on animal models and on human volunteers. The study also showed that TENSIA has properties which could promote cardiovascular health.
Clinical trials prove health benefits
After extensive testing on a variety of subjects, researchers reported, “In our clinical trials we have found that the semi hard Edam type cheese containing viable probiotic cells of L. plantarum TENSIA helps to lower peripheral systolic and diastolic blood pressure in healthy adults and elderly subjects when consumed in a daily dose of 50 g of cheese.The blood pressure lowering effect of cheese containing L. plantarum TENSIA may have potential implications for the management of subjects with elevated blood pressure.
As it continues to produce its unique Harmony heart friendly cheese and to develop new products, E-Piim aims to serve as a benchmark for innovation in the Estonian dairy products sector. Jaanus Murakas, who is open to partnerships that would help E-Piim enter new markets, concludes, “Estonia produces very high quality milk, much better milk than neighboring countries produce. Estonia’s dairy industry has a very positive reputation internationally and our dairy farmers continue to invest in the latest technologies. E-Piim sets an example for the Estonian dairy sector in that we already produce a wide variety of unique products.”