Innolact is a Lugo company that was launched in 2006 as a University spin-out with various researchers from the Workspace of Lactose Products of the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC). The company have developed more than 30 different varieties of cheese, from the natural type to a light type using mixtures with various types of aromatic herbs.


the factory are able to elaborate many cheeses for consumption in the home as well as made-to­order formulations for industrial production. These foods are original both in their flavours (requests are received to combine cheese with olives, with algae, or with tomato sauce) as well as in their presentation, from small jars to large cubes. In this manner, Innolact are able to design specific components such as flavour, texture or the manner in which the cheese behaves according to the requests of the clients. This is the case of ‘Quescrem Plus that is an example of a cheese that is resistant to processes of extreme heating and freezing without losing its creaminess, or of cheeses exclusively used for sandwiches that are softer but that do not break the bread base when the product is spread over that surface.

This definitely deals with a clear case of open innovation based on clients’ demands: the types of cheeses and the challenges that their formulation and production suppose come from the outside. It is within the company that they search for viable solutions adjusted to the necessities of the receivers of the new product.

In addition, this business located in the industrial centre of Castro Ribeiras de Lea (Lugo) is the only one in Spain that produces a cream cheese that is a product of ecological agriculture. Another of their singularities is the marketing of the traditional Italian cheese mascarpone, elaborated by only two Spanish companies. This is a cheese that is sweeter and has a less acid taste which makes it ideal for desserts such as tiramisu or for use in sauces.

The General Director of Innolact, Jesús Zapico (an Agronomy Engineer), explained that they applied technology in order to take advantage of churned milk, a co-­product of the lactose industry that is in the milk obtained after the separation of the butter and that has very interesting nutritional properties. The cream cheese is obtained thanks to the technique of selective filtration used on this churned milk that permits taking maximum advantage of its components in the final product, along with the added feature that the cream used is bought from Galician companies.

Innovation is the only solution either we make new and differentiated things or the future for those who make a product that already exists will be very short. Many things have already been invented for which reason we cannot live based on producing more of what is already produced.” Jesús Zapico


Zapico explained that "facing the difficulty of directing oneself specifically to the final consumer," Innolact opted to search for a different channel in order to market its products: manufacturers of elaborated foods. In this way, they sell their cream cheese to other companies that use it for sandwiches fillings, in empanadillas, pizzas, or cheese cakes. The General Director explained that, of the million kilos of cheese produced annually, they dedicate 45% to industrial uses, 40% to the restaurant sector, and the remaining 15% to direct sales in stores.“Working with the professional sector permits greater loyalty because, for this type of client, the brand is not as important as the quality of the products and the service offered,” Zapico stated.

According to the General Director, Innolact’s competitive advantage involves “better raw materials, the creaminess of the products, and a very competitive price,” as compared to competitor companies, in addition to our own strategy to custom design for our clients. Proof of the success of Innolact is that they foresee their billing volume increasing from 2.5 million Euros in 2010 to close to 4 million Euros in 2011.

Although 85% of the sales are in the Spanish market, in the last year and a half the product is being distributed around the world, in countries such as Portugal and France to the farthest away: Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, India, China, Japan, Korea, and Chile. Exportation is one of the greatest wagers of Innolact, “now we have to lose the fear of looking for exterior markets,” explained Zapico. He recognised that it is difficult at times to penetrate into other countries “due to elements that have nothing to do with the product as may be the case with the culture or the totally different customs of the destination markets.” Without a doubt, those particularities provoke the situation that foods exist that are as strange to our eyes as are the cheeses with algae to the people of Chile.

The brand projection also attests to the fact that they are developing projects in collaboration with other companies such as a special preparation to produce cheese cakes. Their presence in the Cluster of the Food of Galicia is “fundamental” in order to become known.

Since its beginnings, Innolact had valuable public assistance from the Galician Government via the Regional Ministry of Rural Environment as well as national entities, principally the Centre for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI), with which they signed a contract for the research and development of diverse products. It should also be pointed out that the company is participated in by the capital risk entities Xesgalicia and Unirisco Galicia, and have received diverse assistance from the Galician Institute of Economic Promotion (IGAPE) in order to improve marketing, internationalisation, or the design of its products.

The company have 20 partners and 80% of its 14 permanent workers hold university degrees. It was the firts Galician lactose company to be qualified as a technologically-based enterprise. Another of its peculiarities is that it has been accredited with the norm of quality established for large distribution, the International Food Standard (IFS) which, in the words of the General Director, “is much more strict than the ISO and opens more doors to the international market.”

Jesús Zapico is proud of their link to the University. According to him, Innolact is one of the businesses with a greater number of research projects shared with the Workspace of Lactose Products of Lugo at the time when it dedicates an economic quantity that corresponds to 8% of its annual billing to R&D&I. Innolact has its own R&D Department specifically dedicated to innovation tasks given that its General Director believes that “90% of the company’s success consists of having worked in a way that is different from the competition.”