Maintain the founding values of quality, craftsmanship and tradition. This is the objective that Julio José Alonso Feijóo sets himself, a young agricultural engineer and fifth generation to take over Quesos Feijóo, a family cheese factory of Celanova (Ourense) that was founded in 1949 by Talita Hierro García.
From starting to prepare traditional “Queixo do Pais”, the company extended its offer in the 1990’s with block cheese and butter and later in recent years with Tetilla cheese and with a new range of semi-cured “Feijoo 1949” cheeses, made with cow’s milk as well as the mix with goat’s and sheep’s milk. Its latest addition was “Requeixo”, a traditional Galician product that is being very well received in the market. And next week its latest innovation will be launched to the public: Goat’s ‘Requeixo’ with Marron Glacé, a delicatessen product aimed at gourmet shops.
Goat’s ‘Requeixo’ with candied chestnuts, a new product from Quesos Feijóo
Julio, a 5th generation cheese-maker and quality technician, explains that “the idea came from seeing differentiated products that are being launched in other Communities, and we thought it was a very novel and tasty product that mixes the acid taste of the goats’ “requeixo” with the sweet and intense flavour of the candied chestnuts Marron Glacé from Cuevas”. The product was already presented last July in the United States, during a trade mission organised by the Provincial Government of Ourense, and in the next few weeks they expect to be able to show it to a specialist public in the United Kingdom.
In this way, they are trying to take a further step in the diversification that began last year with the development of “Requeixo”, “the buttermilk that was traditionally prepared in Galician peasant houses,” emphasises Julio. The adoption of a Designation of Origin for this product would be, in their view, an essential step to promote a product with great potential in the market.
However, most of Quesos Feijóo’s production remains the traditional Queso Pais, Tetilla and Block cheese, which account for 60% of its production, while the range of semi-cured products and the “Requeixo” represent the remaining 40%.
“The Galicia Calidade seal opens up the market to us in the rest of Spain”
This family cheese factory, where Julio, together with his parents Manuela Feijoo Hierro and José Manuel Alonso Bernárdez and an employee all work, they process about 40,000 litres of cow’s milk weekly, supplied by Lácteos del Deza and from cattle farms in the province of Pontevedra. The goat’s and sheep’s milk is acquired from cattle farms in Zamora.
Quesos Feijóo’s market is almost exclusively focused in the province of Ourense, both through traditional shops (Casa Manzano, etc…), as well as in local fairs and in its own delivery routes throughout the province. It is precisely this direct contact with consumers that Julio Alonso Feijóo values very positively: “It allows us to improve our products and to adapt to the tastes of our customers. In fact, that was why we started to diversify by also preparing cured cheeses and ‘requeson’ (cottage cheese)”. “We have not just focused on just being in a great distribution chain, but we are very clear about the fact that our product has to be valued and looked after,” he says.
Julio: “I want to continue the family tradition and ensure that this cheese factory celebrates its 100th anniversary”
Another important milestone for this cheese maker was its integration in the Galicia Calidade seal last February. With this origin and quality seal we protect our Tetilla cheese, because we value that Galicia Calidade is a very good reference so that we can open up the market in the rest of Spain,” explains Julio.
Looking to the future, in Quesos Feijóo we want to continue investing in innovation, adapting to new consumer tastes, but without neglecting its traditional market. “In three years’ time it will be the cheese factory’s 70th anniversary and my goal is to celebrate 100 years of Quesos Feijóo,” Julio assures us. The enthusiasm and commitment to carry on the tradition of one of the few cheese factories that remain in the province of Ourense and one of the oldest in Galicia is not lacking in this young man.