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The Sprinter 4×4 brings organic milk to Swiss world champion cheese.

A Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with a tanker body drives along a road through the mountains

The Appenzeller cheese made Marcel Tobler the world champion in 2014. With his Sprinter 519 CDI 4x4, the master cheese maker transports the fresh milk that forms the foundation of his cheese in an 1,800 litre custom tank body.

Tobler’s traditional cheese dairy.

When he was only in his fifth year at school, Marcel Tobler decided to become a cheese maker. “I never dreamt of being anything else”, reminisces the master cheese maker. What fascinates him about the job? The raw product milk with its quality differences. “You can make a vast range of different products out of it.” From diverse types of cheese to yoghurt or cream. “The spectrum is so varied, this is what makes it so exciting”, he continues. Tobler’s cheese dairy is located in the Appenzell region and has been run by the Swiss family for almost 120 years. Founded by his great-grandfather, Marcel Tobler is now the fourth generation and manages the business with a successful blend of tradition and innovation. He would like to pass on his passion for the trade and his absolute dedication to its products to future cheese makers. Marcel’s dream for the future: “To pass on this company with its rich tradition to the next generation.”

A man looks through a shelf of cheese wheels and into the camera

Master cheese maker as a dream job: Marcel Tobler chose his trade when he was still a child.

From raw milk to sliced cheese.

Outstanding cheese is not manufactured by chance. The rule of thumb when making cheese: it takes good quality milk to make high quality cheese. That is why Marcel collects the fresh milk daily from farmers throughout the region and convinces himself of the quality while he is visiting. The cheese is always manufactured using the same technique, but the milk is subject to natural fluctuations. That is why no two cheeses are ever the same. “Good cheese is when we feel like its flavour appeals to many people.” Many different factors play a role: beginning with how the milk is obtained to the storage and bacteriology.

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The flavoursome secret of Appenzeller.

The cheese takes its name from the Appenzell region. But not every cheese can become Appenzeller. These conditions have to be fulfilled before the cheese earns the name:

  • The brand is a protected product – Appenzeller may only be produced within the strictly monitored boundaries of the original region. These are four Cantons around Säntis Mountain: St. Gallen, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Thurgau.
  • The cheeses are made exclusively from silo-free raw milk so that large holes do not occur when the cheese is left to rest.
  • The herbal brine prepared to a secret recipe gives the cheese its unique flavour during the ripening phase. The longer the cheese ripens, the stronger its flavour.

  • A cheese harp in a kettle with thickened milk
  • Cheese wheels stacked on wooden boards
  • Filling equipment with cheese forms
  • Shelves with cheese wheels and a cheese robot in the background

A cheese with a world champion title.

Even today, the Appenzeller cheese is still primarily made by hand. Yet state-of-the-art processes are also used at Tobler’s cheese dairy. A robot helps Marcel to care for the cheeses: from rubbing the herbal brine into the cheese wheels to the strenuous turning work. The rest of the work remains passionate craftsmanship by hand. And the effort pays off. The traditional company took first place at the “World Championship Cheese Contest” in the USA in 2014. “At first, I could not believe it. Naturally this is an incredible recognition of the daily work.” To continue the success, Marcel works on his cheese production every day with ambition and drive. “My standards are extremely high when it comes to the products.”

A man holding a framed certificate in his hands

At the “World Championship Cheese Contest”, Marcel won the title in the Appenzeller category in 2014.

The Sprinter as a milk transporter.

Marcel also handles the milk transport personally. With his Sprinter 519 CDI 4×4, he drives to the dairy farmers throughout the Appenzeller region and collects the fresh milk. The special refrigerated body provides the perfect conditions. To reduce the unladen weight to a minimum, Marcel had the tank mounted directly on the chassis. The cooling integrated into the tank ensures that the milk stays fresh. The tank is designed in such a way that it is easy to clean and also prevents the milk from freezing at high altitudes. “Because I can load the Sprinter with up to 5 tonnes, I have more payload and can transport more milk in a single run. This is a massive benefit.” He worked with the vehicle supplier to determine the perfect load distribution. The tank was positioned on the chassis accordingly.

I chose the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter because the vehicles have a good payload and that is very important for me. This enables me to transport more milk with every run so I have to drive less and can use the vehicle more effectively.

Unique aspects of transporting milk.

Fresh milk is a sensitive raw material. The following needs to be observed to prevent the milk from turning sour during transport:

  1. Drive at an unhurried pace: Accelerate and brake gently to shake the milk as little as possible.
  2. If you do have to brake abruptly: wait for a while before you drive off again.
  3. Drive with foresight: transporting large quantities of liquid significantly changes the handling and braking behaviour.

A man sits at the wheel of a Sprinter and looks through the side window into the camera

The passionate master cheese maker, Marcel Tobler, won the Appenzeller world championship title.

A man connects a hose to the refrigerated body of a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

The master cheese maker drives 40 km every day to collect fresh milk from the dairy farmers throughout the Appenzell region.

A hand fastens a hose to equipment

A hose is used to pump the 1,800 litres of milk out of the vehicle’s tank.

A Mercedes-Benz Sprinter drives along a winding road through pastures

The all-wheel drive enables Marcel to reliably reach even remote farms in the Appenzell region.

Step-by-step to world champion cheese: The cheese is pressed in the press pan.

A man stands between shelves full of cheese and holds a clipboard

Only the best is good enough – the cheese maker checking the quality.

A Mercedes-Benz Sprinter drives along a narrow road through the mountains

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4 is in service every day to collect fresh milk for the cheese production.

Photos: Fabian Freitag

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