By virtue of Decree of the Council of Ministers No. 236, in November 1959 a Research Institute for the Dairy Industry was established, which began to work at the beginning of 1960. The first tasks assigned to the specialists from the institute were associated with studying the content and quality of different types of milk, rennet and its substitutes, starters and some technological processes applied in the production.
The institute moved to the city of Vidin in 1963. The choice of this city is not accidental – it is the city of Kula where the first modern plant in Bulgaria was opened, specialised in milk processing and production of butter, brined cheese and yellow cheese. A vocational school specialising in dairy production was established as part of this plant. Dairy farming was well-developed in Vidin region at that time. Soon after the establishment of the institute, studies on the content of milk of the Kula cattle breed were carried out. At that time, four additional breeds were present in Bulgaria (Bulgarian simmental, Bulgarian red cattle, Bulgarian brown cattle and Canadian speckle park cattle) and it was important to determine breed that gave milk that is most suitable for industrial processing.
The institute movement to Vidin necessitated the establishment of a unit to provide starters to the production laboratories in Bulgaria. As a result, in 1963 a Central Experimental Laboratory for pure cultures was established, the purpose of which was to produce starters and growth media for the microbiological industrial laboratories and to organise further training for the laboratories’ staff. Maria Stefanova-Kondratenko, who headed the regional laboratory in the city of Pleven, was appointed as director of the central experimental laboratory.
In 1965, DSO (public economic association) “Mlechna promishlenost” (dairy industry) was established as an independent unit. One year later it was acquired by DSO “Rodopa”.
In 1969, it withdrew from DSO “Rodopa” again as an independent public economic association named DSO “Serdika”. At the end of 1970, DSO “Serdika” was re-acquired by DSO “Rodopa”. Since 1974, by virtue of a new decree of the Council of Ministers, the Public Economic Association “Mlechna promishlenost” was established, which operated until the early 90s of the past century. The Research Institute for the Dairy Industry – Vidin and the Central Laboratory in Sofia merged to the newly established economic association.
The economic and political changes at the beginning of 1990 also reflected on the dairy industry. A large part of the regional dairy processing enterprises were either privatised or closed. DSO “Mlechna promishlenost” was closed, while its division covering the central administration, the Central Experimental Laboratory in Sofia, the Research Institute for the Dairy Industry in Vidin, the facilities for non-standard equipment in Plovdiv and the cutting and packaging plant in Kazanlak were transformed into a single owner commercial company called “LB Bulgaricum” EAD. The company acquired the right to grant rights for production of Bulgarian yoghurt and authentic Bulgarian starters abroad. The Institute for the Dairy Industry was renamed to “LB Intellect” and the Central Laboratory was renamed to “LB Engineering”. Irrespective of all the challenges during the transition period, “LB Bulgaricum” EAD managed to retain the talent potential of both research units. The focus of research was re-oriented primarily on starters for yoghurt and traditional dairy products and on the development of functional foods designed for prevention and therapeutic nutrition.
In 1995-1996, “LB Bulgaricum” EAD was selected for the main contractor from Bulgaria under a five-year intergovernmental project funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) dedicated to the development of fermented dairy products in Bulgaria. The project activities included delivery of advanced research equipment, training for the company scientific workers provided by Japanese experts and introduction of new methods of research. The Research and Development Centre of “LB Bulgaricum” EAD has proven itself as the best research centre in Bulgaria in the field of dairy industry.