Piątnica commune is located in the Podlasie voivodeship, on the Narew River, about two kilometres (1.25 miles) from the city of Łomża. It is located in the region commonly referred to as the "Green Lungs" of Poland. It is an ecologically clean area of a typically agricultural character. The dairy traditions in the Piątnica commune are inseparably linked to the economic activity of the estate located in the village of Drozdowo on the River Narew and, in particular, to its owners: Franciszek Dionizy Lutosławski and his son Stanisław, the ancestors of the famous composer Witold Lutosławski. The owners of the estate, using the feed found in abundance in the Narew valley, developed a foreign dairy cattle breed and processed the milk in a home dairy. The products were then distributed among the citizens of Łomża. The dairy business was continued by the Lutosławski family for dozens of years, until the end of World War II. In 1947, two years after the war, the dairy production was moved from Drozdów to the new building at ul. Zjazd in Łomża, where a state-owned plant was established. It main specialties were butter and cheeses. The plant was able to produce 180 tons of butter and 30 tons of cheese per year. Initially, 9 people were employed, but as of 1952 that number increased to 74 people. In 1957, the dairy plant was transformed into Regional Dairy Cooperative (Okręgowa Spółdzielnia Mleczarska, OSM) in Łomża. Due to the poor condition of the Cooperative, which was, to a large extend, caused by worn-out machines and inadequate technical condition of the main building, a decision was made to build a new dairy plant. Unfortunately, since the area where OSM operated was included in the development plans of the city of Łomża, the new building could not have been built next to the old plant. That is why in 1959 OSM in Łomża bought a construction plot located in the village of Piątnica where in 1961 construction works began. In the second half of 1965, the new plant was officially opened with a name already in place: Regional Dairy Cooperative in Łomża with its headquarters in Piątnica. At that time, the Cooperative processed 14 million litters of milk per year and employed 94 people. The cooperative started its operations under its current name in 1981.
The real milestone in the history of the Cooperative, which started its transformation from the local plant into a market leader was the introduction of Serek Wiejski (Cottage Cheese) in 1991, a dairy product which, until that year, was unknown to Polish consumers. This product, adapted from the American market and further developed based on the in-house technology, has won countless awards, medals and certificates for the best dairy product since its introduction to the market. Due to its unchangingly high quality, our cottage cheese maintains its leading position on the domestic market. It is highly valued for its excellent taste and nutritional properties and has become an important item in the menu of many consumers. The District Dairy Cooperative in Piątnica is currently the largest producer of granular cheese in the world. The success of Serek Wiejski has undoubtedly helped to build confidence in new solutions and in new products that are still being added to company's portfolio. Piątnica was the first to introduce the standarized color labels for particular types of cream and descriptions for their use. It was also the first dairy company that introduced to the market a curd cheese with a fixed weight and price and sold in a durable open-close packaging. In March 2011, OSM Piatnica merged with the "Ostrołęka" Dairy Cooperative, which is now called the OSM Piątnica Production Plant in Ostrołęka. Thanks to the merger and some further investments, Piątnica became the first dairy plant in Poland to sell curd cheese in slices (called "Milandia Ogród Smaków"), country milk in an innovative bottle with a handle as well as ecological milk. Bearing in mind the great nutritional benefits of milk, we based the production of our country milk and organic milk on an innovative method of microfiltration and pasteurization at a temperature of 74°C (165°F), which allows us to preserve the natural taste of the milk and all its nutritional values. In recent years, the Cooperative has also continued its expansion and modernization of the plant in Piątnica. Total investment expenditure in 2014 amounted to over PLN 55 million and included launching of a new cottage cheese production line as well as construction of a fully automated high-storage warehouse that can store over 5,000 pallets. This is the first warehouse of this type in the history of Poland. We also launched production of an innovative Greek yoghurt with 0% fat and two times more protein. A favourable reception of our Greek yoghurts encouraged us to introduce the first Greek yoghurt for children called Piątuś to the Polish market. In 2015, Piątnica started producing Greek yoghurts that contain just natural yoghurt and only slightly sweetened fruits.
Security, efficiency, technology
Piatnica was the first dairy cooperative in the country to implement the Integrated Management System that includes:
1. ISO 9001 quality management system
2. Food safety system based on the HACCP principles
3. ISO 14001 environmental management system
In 2010, the company obtained the international IFS (International Food Standard) certificate confirming meeting all its requirements regarding food quality and safety at a higher level. OSM Piątnica has been successfully implementing corporate social responsibility standards for many years. It supports milk suppliers, takes care of its employees and undertakes a number of actions aimed at minimizing the negative impact of its production on the environment.
The market position that OSM Piątnica has gained over recent years results in its having the highest share in essential dairy categories, such as cottage cheeses, creams, cream cheeses and curds. The cooperative introduces new solutions that had not been known in Poland before, both in respect to the production and to packaging, with the main concern being the safety and convenience of its customers. This, in turn, strengthens the brand's image and value. OSM Piątnica is now one of the top 50 most valuable Polish brands. In the last ranking published by the Rzeczpospolita newspaper, the Cooperative ranked 10th in terms of its brand strength in the food products category and 2nd among the dairy companies. Piątnica is particularly highly rated in terms of its customer loyalty, taking 13th spot in the overall ranking and the 1st place among dairy brands. In addition to the aesthetic packaging and innovative technological solutions used in their production, our products are also well-regarded for their natural ingredients. This is why Piątnica enjoys high recognition among the consumers and sets new standards and directions for the development of the dairy industry. All this results in Piątnica being perceived, on the one hand, as an innovative brand, and on the other, as friendly company that adheres to traditional values. It is one of the most modern and fastest growing dairy companies in Poland. Annually, it purchases 333 million litters of milk from 2196 suppliers, whose farms are located in the area of the so-called "Green Lungs" of Poland which covers the basins of the Narew and Biebrza rivers, the outskirts of the Biebrza National Park, the Łomża Landscape Park and the area of Kurpie. This guarantees high quality and pure raw milk. At every stage of production, our milk is carefully controlled to meet the strict norms and safety standards. For the purpose of verifying the quality of purchased milk in terms its bacteria levels, Piątnica adheres to a system of standards that is twice as stringent as EU requirements. Also, the tests used for detection of antibiotic residues and inhibitory substances are 10 times more sensitive than required by the regulations. For 16 years Piątnica has been paying our farmers in Poland the best price for the raw material they deliver.