“Brexit custom requirements, compounded by Covid-19 protocols, are delaying the time it takes to get products across the border,” Cesco Amodio, owner and founder of the company with his brother, Henry, said.
“And whereas goods could previously move freely between the UK and Europe, there are now costly import taxes to pay.”
In addition, EU importers must apply to HMRC for an EORI number; find out the commodity code and value for the goods they want to import; and determine and pay the correct rate of duty and VAT.
In a bid to bypass these costs, delays and bureaucracy, Fratelli Amodio approached Italian equipment suppliers to help set up a manufacturing base in Somerset, including AVE UK’s parent company, the Della Toffola Group, an Italian-based international provider of processing and packaging machinery. The deciding factor for Amodio was the ability of Della Toffola’s UK-based subsidiary, AVE UK, to provide immediate, on-the-ground, local sales advice, equipment installation, technical support, after-care and servicing.
AVE UK solution consists of six individual systems including automatic coagulation vats, drainage trolleys, a whey recovery system, cradle coagulation vats, ricotta trolleys and salting cheese vats.
Amodio said, “Finding a UK supplier of precision cheese-making equipment was crucial in helping us recreate authentically Italian, sustainably-produced mozzarella right here in Somerset. AVE UK’s support is vital to the success of our new operation.”
Initially designed to produce 1,500kg of mozzarella per day, AVE UK’s modular solution will enable Fratelli Amodio’s business to grow with demand while retaining a compact footprint. It also gives the company the option to produce other specialist Italian cheeses, such as burrata, stracchino, montasio, asiago and caciocavallo, and even hard cheeses like Gouda and cheddar.
“AVE UK’s solution supports our production of authentic Italian cheese, while delivering the productivity and sustainability benefits expected with modern manufacturing,” Amodio said.
“Exclusively hand-making the mozzarella would bring the potential for human error, causing wastage which goes against our ethos of being a sustainable brand. Equally, switching to mass production would dilute the authenticity of our product. With this solution, we get the best of both worlds – consistent, reliable cheesemaking with a good yield of product per hour, combined with the hands-on artisanal approach that our customers expect.”
Steve Bradley AVE UK’s sales director, said, “Our solution will enable the customer to extract more final product from their raw material. This will reduce the volumes of by-product created and increase their yield. In addition, all our equipment has the option of automated cleaning-in-place technology, saving on water and energy consumption, as well as cleaning products. This has a positive environmental impact as it reduces the load on effluent treatment and cuts power consumption, while maintaining the highest standards of hygiene.”
AVE UK’s solution also enables Fratelli Amodio to create an additional product from the processing residues. The whey separated from the curd at the start of the process is often retained in Italy and used to make ricotta. The system includes a cradle vat dedicated to ricotta production. Containing an automated heat injection system featuring a steam jacket, it keeps the product at the desired temperature and ensures even heat distribution, avoiding the risk of hot spots.
Due to be installed in early 2022, the new line will maximize productivity rates, thanks to precision temperature and cutting control, automated production capabilities and consistency of quality. Also helping to minimize wastage during production, thereby further boosting profitability, it successfully combines the best of today’s processing expertise with heritage cheesemaking traditions.
“Innovation doesn’t have to mean creating a new technique,” Bradley said.
“For this project, it was essential that our solution respects and reproduces the traditional methods of mozzarella making to replicate the true flavors of Italy right here in the UK, while also incorporating the hygiene, efficiency, sustainability and reliability benefits requested by today’s market. It’s about cutting cost and waste, not taste and quality.”
Amodio said, “Our new UK base is located on the Chew Valley Dairy Farm in Somerset. Milk from the farm’s cows will be used to make the mozzarella, increasing the sustainability credentials that are integral to our brand. Rather than using plastic, our mozzarella will be packaged in glass jars; a unique offering that we are sure our climate-conscious UK customers will appreciate. To support our sustainability agenda, the equipment supplied by AVE UK will help to reduce wastage by eliminating human error, as well as being extremely energy efficient.”