The cultures are aimed at meeting producer needs and consumer preferences for various types of soft cheese. "Soft cheese represents a world of indulgence," said Jean-Michel Lepetit, marketing manager for cheese cultures. "I am positive that these new cultures will help our cheese producing customers manufacture delicious soft cheeses - without having to use the constraining bulk starter production method." The bulk starter method takes at least 24 hours and is undertaken by cheese manufacturers, when they ferment their own cultures and wait for these to be ready before continuing on with production. Chr Hansen claim the cheese cultures are more reliable as mistakes and wastage can occur when manufacturers independently carry out the bulk starter method. They also save time and space as they do not require investment in extensive equipment. Chr Hansen have developed the cultures in the Direct Vat Set (DVS) packaging form, which was invented by Chr Hansen. This is a concentrated and standardised frozen or freeze-dried dairy culture used for the direct inoculation. The company claims this is an easy-to-use form as it is needs no activation or other treatment prior to use. It is also flexible and offers the possibility of customised culture blends. The new cultures comprise two thermophilic cultures, which require between 35 and 45 degrees Celsius to act, and two mesophilic cultures, which thrive in temperatures between 15 degrees Celsius. F-DVS GK-01 and CZ-03 have been developed to help soft cheese producers reach the acidification and texture needs of Gorgonzola and Crescenza. F-DVS Tradi-01 and Fresh-01 contribute to obtaining the unique acidification and flavour of cheese based on mesophilic production, such as Camembert and different blue cheeses. The soft cheese market accounts for 12 per cent of global cheese production, as the fourth biggest cheese sector. Annual production of soft cheese amounts to 1.7m tonnes, with France, Italy, Argentina and Germany being the main producers. In southern Europe and in South America more soft cheese is produced than any other type of cheese and southern European cheese producers alone manufacture 0.8m tonnes of soft cheese annually. Chr Hansen is a global biotechnology company that provides ingredients to the food, dairy, human health and nutrition, and animal health industries.