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The NHL Stenden Hospitality Group, comprised of all the practice departments where students of Hotel Management School gain their practical hospitality experience, started on an innovative project in collaboration with the Food Application Centre for Technology (FACT), also known as the Food Technology department of Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences. This initiative seeks to transform the dairy supply chains, promote sustainability, and engage students in agricultural research.

FACT, a highly innovative small food grade dairy factory for productions, research and education, partly managed by HBO and MBO students at Van Hall Larenstein university, receives their raw unprocessed dairy from the nearby “Dairy Campus”. This is an educational institution connected to Wageningen University and Research facility located just outside of Leeuwarden. The Dairy Campus actively collaborates with students from various academic levels, promoting agricultural sustainability research by investigating innovative agricultural practices. FACT then pasteurises the raw milk, making it ready for consumption and extending its shelf life, and monitors food quality and safety.

At the core of this exciting partnership is the establishment of a dairy “pipeline” designed to meet the dairy needs of the NHL Stenden university campus. This innovative approach will provide daily dairy needs for approximately 2000 people without obtaining dairy products from locations farther than 5 kilometers away from Leeuwarden. The project begins with a modest order of 200 liters per week, initially serving all coffee outlets on the campus, while looking at options to expand to other outlets in the future.

The project offers a unique opportunity for students to develop new plant-based or hybrid products. Also, they will test their appeal to the public and explore strategies for encouraging sustainable choices among consumers, contributing to a sustainable circular economy.

Key highlights of this collaboration include:

1. Enhanced Dairy Quality: The milk supplied for coffee corners contains a higher fat and protein level and is very fresh because of the short chain. Utilizing pasteurization technology through direct steam injection minimizes damage to the milk, while maintaining freshness of the milk. This results in thicker, shinier, and stronger foam for cappuccinos, ensuring a superior product for guests while enhancing the welfare of cows and minimizing environmental impact.

2. Accurate Diet Monitoring: Closely monitored diets for cows include tracking their grazing locations and the types of grass consumed, monitored per hectare. Research is ongoing to assess the supplementation of ingredients in their diet to reduce methane (GHG) emissions, in accordance with sustainability goals. Dairy Campus and FACT can select specific cows and raw milk for the NHL Stenden supply, ensuring the highest quality dairy products.

3. Local Sourcing and Processing: The entire supply chain is rooted in the surrounding area. Dairy production takes place at the Dairy Campus – just outside Leeuwarden. The raw dairy is locally processed by students specializing in Food Technology at Van Hall Larenstein. Finally, it is transformed into delicious, foamy cappuccinos by Hotelschool students, adding a personal touch to every cup.

This groundbreaking collaboration is not merely about providing milk for coffee corners; it represents the first step towards a versatile partnership between NHL Stenden Hospitality Group and FACT. The project has several products and initiatives lined up, all aimed at advancing Sustainable Development Goals. The partnership promises to deliver a better quality of life for both consumers and the environment, making Leeuwarden a hub for sustainable dairy innovation and education.