Founded in 1995 in the village of Carregal do Sal, the company Queijaria Flor da Beira is located in the middle of the Serra da Estrela cheese region. Over the years it has had as fundamental policy by improving and modernizing its facilities and manufacture techniques. Heading to promote the quality and food safety of finished products the company acclimatized the entire production area in 2010 and proceeded with the placement of milk cooling tanks at the facilities of all sheep milk producers. Still in 2010 and after intensive implementation of the ISO 9001 and ISO 22000 standards, Queijaria da Beira became the first cheese factory to obtain the certification of its Quality and Food Safety System by APCER for the manufacture of cured sheep’s cheese and pasteurized sheep’s cheese curd.
Vitor Pinto – administrator of Flor da Beira
Queijo da Beira has maintained a close relationship with suppliers of sheep’s milk (origin: Portugal), with a total of 100 producers. The sheep collecting area includes: Guarda District (Figueira Castelo Rodrigo, Almeida, Fornos de Algodres, Pinhel and Vila Nova de Foz Côa); Viseu District (Carregal do Sal, Mangualde, Nelas, Penalva do Castelo, Santa Comba Dão, Tondela and Viseu) District of Coimbra (Tábua, Oliveira do Hospital)
Vitor Pinto, the administrator of the company welcomes us and talks about his product and the awards he has lately won.
We know this company as having considered growth in production. “if we had more cheese, more sales we accomplish”
Vitor Pinto – It is a fact, in 2018 we grew about 28%, already reaching 250 tons of cheese manufactured. We started to buy more milk than ussual as a result of demand coupled with the sales objectives. We only worked with sheep’s milk, mostly “the bordaleira da Serra da Estrela” and the region of Almeida-Vilar Formoso the “Lacaune” breed. These sheep are from a French origin a race, its name comes from the Montes Lacaune and according to the stories it comes from the Roquefort producing region. Therefore, it is considered a race of mixed skills possessing the perfect milk for the preparation of varied products. 80% of the 100 producers that produce exclusively for us, are in the Demarcated Region and 20% in the Almeida and Figueira, region of Castelo Rodrigo. The Bordaleira breed of Serra da Estrela, its best-known appetite is the production of milk (it has a greater capacity to give it than most other native breeds of the Mediterranean) that is used in the production of the most famous and coveted cheese in the country.
Queijaria Flor da Beira does not sell on large stores. That is, where can we find your cheeses?
VP- We only sell in the traditional market, in the Gourmet market and in Exportation.
Speaking about export: this has been a strategy in the last years strengthened by the presence in SISAB PORTUGAL.
VP- It is a fact and we have grown a lot in international markets with some help from SISAB. The export represents to Flor da Beira 30% of its turnover with customers in markets like Europe, Brazil, USA and Canada. Also we bet a lot in the international market, having the capacity to satisfy new customers who want to sell our cheese. We will be at SISAB PORTUGAL again on 25-26 and 27 February because every day we are “knocked on the door” by producers who want work with Flor da Beira because we pay well for the milk used in our products, being demanding in the quality and hygiene of animals and stables. Also because we pay in time, we use good raw material, have excellent employees, whose number is around 20. We managed to have a product that won prizes in the most demanding national competitions and we intend to compete in 2019 because we know the quality of our cheeses. So there is no need for when the “big distribution” knocks at the door make our cheeses available because the motto has always been not to produce just for producing and reduce production costs, but to achieve high quality and certified cheese that obviously has its value. Pastoralism is not in danger and fortunately we have sheep’s milk in quantity and quality to produce sheep’s cheese. Our cheese is distinguished because the demand parameters of the producers are high and they are frequently visited and the milk collecting complies with the highest requirements of hygiene and food safety!
Let’s talk about prizes. Are there prizes every year?
VP- 2018 was a very good year. With QUALIFICA we competed for the Cheese Contest at the Santarém Agriculture Fair and we obtained GOLD MEDAL, and in the ANIL contest we won the Best Sheep Cheese of 2018. We had already won the same distinction in 2014 and over the years we have won several medals but the year 2018 was the “icing on the cake” in terms of prizes and we won against all competition. We have never competed for International Competitions, but will in 2019 and hope to be medalists in one of the most demanding competitions in Belgium.