Shiraqi, a Georgian producer of dairy products, is planning to expand its line with new products such as yogurt, matsoni (strained sour milk similar to yogurt), dambalkhacho (made from buttermilk cottage cheese), aged cheese and other varieties of milk products.
Founder of Shiraqi Nikoloz Beniaidze told us that the company has a “great desire” to create a Cheese Museum in the country, “where master classes on cheese and tasting events will be held,” he said.
Currently the company produces fifteen raw milk products — sulguni, smoked sulguni, Imeruli cheese Extra, Georgian Cheese, twisted cheese, smoked twisted cheese, sulguni sticks, smoked sulguni sticks, matsoni, cottage cheese, ghee, butter Glekhura.
Dairy products under the brand of Shiraqi are sold not only locally but on export markets as well. Today, Shiraqi cheese and sour cream is sold in Singapore, Dubai, France, the USA, and Bahrain.
Beniaidze said that Shiraqi is working to expand its exports, with Canada and Israel showing interest in Georgian produce.
The company processes up to ten tons of raw milk per day, of which 15-20% is exported. Shiraqi exports about forty tons of products per year.
Q. Shiraqi won the Golden Brand in the category “favorite cheese producer”. What does this recognition mean to the company?
A. The whole Shiraqi team works hard every day to create a complete cycle “from field to table” to deliver the highest quality raw milk products to the consumer. For us, for the whole team, this award is appreciation and recognition of our work.
It is more gratifying to see that the company’s hard work done last year is appreciated this year. And I want to tell you that 2022 was quite challenging for Shiraqi. Due to a shortage of raw milk, it was difficult for us to meet the demand for raw milk products for some time, but we successfully overcame this obstacle and even became a recognized producer company this year.
Q. How has Shiraqi been developing on the Georgian market over the years?
A. Founded in 2006, Shiraqi was first involved in milk collection and over the years has grown into a large producer of dairy products. This success was based on the experience and knowledge of my and our company’s employees in various training programs that we did in Europe and America. Successful and growing farms I saw abroad had a great impact on my plans. In 2013, we laid the foundation on the Shiraqi farm.
Q. Please introduce us to the whole production cycle of Shiraqi, as you said — “from field to table”.
A. We produce Shiraqi raw milk products with 100% local raw milk.
We have our own dairy farm of high-yielding Holstein cattle, who are fed mainly with food grown in our farm. We also collect milk and import raw milk from other high-yielding dairy farms.
We have raw milk collection points in Kakheti and Kvemo Kartli regions.
Q. Golden Brand survey showed Shiraqi is Georgian customers’ favorite cheese producing company, but what are the best-selling products according to sales data?
A. Imeruli cheese Extra and sulguni, Georgian Cheese, smoked sulguni, matsoni, cottage cheese are among the top-selling products of Shiraqi.
Speaking of sulguni, I want to mention that Shiraqi sulguni was the winner at the blind tasting of EBIARD/FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture in 2018, 2019 and 2021. Georgia patented sulguni cheese according to Shiraqi’s internal standard of sulguni-making.
Overall, due to the increase in the price of raw milk, the prices of raw milk products were high last year, but in spite of this our sales were stable.