Mongolian Artisan Cheesemakers Union
Introduction to MACU
MACU was formed in July 2015 to develop, produce, sell, distribute and market fine cheeses made in Mongolia. It is a company that brings a new approach to the commercial utilization of Mongolia"s nomadic pastoral milk resources. MACU's goal is to build out more than 100 small-scale cheesemaking facilities across the country and to make Mongolia's cheeses a signature Mongolian brand. Six small cheesemakers now participate. MACU's cheesemakers produce more than 15 products, many of which are world class, some of which are unique.
In February 2016, the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry awarded MACU its biennial Silk Road Award for New and Innovative Technology. This award recognizes MACU's developmental model. That model focuses on small-scale, decentralized cheesemaking based on milk of animals raised extensively. MACU takes such cheesemaking as and end in itself. The company also sees such cheesemaking as a catalyst for improving the productivity of Mongolia extensive animal husbandry and for enhancing the socio-environmental benefits that derive from them.
MACU's approach starts with the observation that most Mongolia's milk is produced during the 100 days of summer from lasting mother animals gathered in summer pasture areas more than 75 kilometers distant from Ulaanbaatar. During this summer period, Mongolian cows, yaks, goats, sheep and camels naturally produce billions of liters of milk for which there is not much market. What can be done with this milk ?
Essential components of MACU’s strategy include,
* sophisticated cheesemaking know-how that creates distinctive if not unique Mongolian cheeses that have the potential to gain recognition around the world for their qualities and otherwise have a marketing story that will support a high-end branding strategy; * low-cost, low-maintenance production systems that use state-of-the-art solar water-heating and continuous pasteurizing technology to enable efficient cheese production in small-scale rural cheese plants (10-ton to 50-ton per year capacity) that meet international phyto-sanitary standards;
* centralized sales, distribution, marketing and export strategies and systems that both over come the problems of getting Mongolian cheeses to market and enhance their value once they are there; * unified systems for affinage and quality control that not only establish and maintains standards for a particular cheese or type of cheese, but also promote the integrity of Mongolian cheeses as a national brand;
* selective breeding programs that conserve and exploit the genetics of ancient livestock breeds and land race types from Mongolia and elsewhere in order to improve the quality and quantity of the milk used to make Mongolian cheeses from local animals under nomadic pastoral conditions; an integrative approach to cheesemaking that sees a rural cheese plant as catalyst for various other environmentally friendly and sustainable commercial activities that can enhance the productivity of Mongolia's rural communities – e.g., no-tillage, swale-irrigated hay plots or agro-forests; local whey-based leather processing plants, beekeeping, etc..
* internalized systems of finance to meet the needs of a federated network of small-scale cheesemakers for growth ad operating capital. MACU’s approach to cheesemaking is integrative – that is, is it intends to conserve and promote sustainable animal husbandry and agriculture; to relate to contribute to the revitalization of pastoral and forests, and otherwise to have a strong carbon-offset component. MACU’s approach is also entrepreneurial, which means not only that MACU aims to make a profit but that MACU aims to make small-scale cheesemaking and all activities associated with it profitable from the herder level upwards.