Paraguay may not be the first country that springs to mind when thinking of major global dairy players, but dairy cooperative Chortitzer wants to change this – and is making the necessary investments to do so.
“Globally, we are a new player in the dairy industry,” a spokesperson for the company said. “Of course, our company is strong in the domestic market – we’re the number one brand in Paraguay – but we started operations with milk powder last year."
The history of Chortitzer dates back to a Mennonite colony founded in Paraguay by Canadian immigrants in 1927. The founding members originally planted wheat but the climate and soil conditions of the Chaco prevented it from thriving and so they switched to crops such as cotton, sorghum, watermelon, peanut, cassava and beans, some of which still form part of the company’s portfolio.
Outgrown the domestic market
In the 1950s it began producing butter for the domestic market and today counts around 120 SKUs under its Lacteos Trebol brand.
“Because of our continuous growth, we’ve got to the stage where we are too big for just the domestic market but still quite small internationally. That’s when we took the decision to invest in a drying plant to export milk powder,” the spokesperson said. He added: “We’re pretty new in the game but we’re here to stay and get strong.”
This drying plant, which was inaugurated in 2018 in the Chaco region, has allowed the company to expand and grow its international customer base both in Latin America and beyond.
The company currently sells whole and skimmed milk powder and butter to Brazil, Bolivia, Russia, Middle East, and Northern Africa, among others. In order to strengthen Paraguay’s reputation as a player in the global dairy industry, the company has been attending international trade shows, including Anuga in Germany earlier this year.
“We saw it as necessary to be here so that people begin to see Paraguay as a supplier of dairy products,” said the representative for the cooperative, which counts 4,651 members.
The Chortitzer Cooperative also produces peanut oil, safflower oil, feed grain, cotton, and guaiac wood oil, a steam-distilled essential oil obtained from palo santo wood. Its subsidiary FrigoChorti slaughters more than 200,000 heads of cattle per year. Chortitzer’s global push is aligned with that of Paraguay’s food industry.
The Paraguayan minister for trade and industry, Liz Cramer Campos, said at Anuga this year: "We are convinced in Paraguay that free and fair world trade is a source of further development and that it can lead to a more efficient usage of the globally available resources.”