EN In the dairy of the multi-purpose centre in the parish of Azinhal in the municipality of Castro Marim in the Algarve, where time stands still from time to time, there has been – almost without anyone noticing it – a genuine revolution.
For five days a week, the goat rearers association ANCCRAL (Associação Nacional de Criadores de Caprinos da Raça Algarvia) produces fresh goat’s cheese there, and an incredibly good natural yoghurt, unprecedented in the region.
As part of his secondary activity, as the finance department would call it, (atividade secundária), Pedro Constância (see photo) collects the milk from the goat farmers from Monday to Friday in the early morning with his 2,000 litre stainless steel tanker.
Solange Pereira (aged 26) and Zoryana Vladymyzova (aged 44) cool the milk down as soon as Pedro has delivered it to the dairy, sterilise it later in readiness for preparing the cheese and the yoghurt, and add the only other ingredients, wild thistle tea (8 grams of thistle to 100 litres) and sea salt (80 grams to 100 litres).
There are two fresh cheeses in the range, one is plain, the other is made with regional herbs, oregano and thyme. Delicious.
This little success story could end here, were it not for the yoghurt and the other sustainable plans of this small innovative dairy, which the municipality of Castro Marim helped to get up and running.
In 2011, the idea was born to transform traditional products from local producers in a sustainable manner.
The local authority made the newly-built multi-purpose centre available to the association, an architectural gem of Arab origin.
This is where exhibitions, festivals and markets are held, which return every year.
Every week, 2,400 fresh cheeses and 400 yoghurts are produced from the around 900 litres of goat’s milk that are delivered every day, which are sold in about 100 shops and markets in the region.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Marco Castro drives from Azinhal via Faro and Loulé to Portimão, to distribute and deliver the fresh products.
Demand is high, hardly any produce remains unsold.
For the almost 4,000 goats and the 48 members of the association in the three municipalities of Vila Real de Sto. António, Alcoutim and Castro Marim, this is the basis of their livelihood. They receive between 55 and 65 cents per litre of goat’s milk, depending on the season.
All the natural yoghurts (sugar-free!) come in glass pots with metal tops, 100% recyclable. A 150-gram pot of yogurt costs €1.30, including VAT, from the dairy – the 170-gram fresh cheese costs the same.
For next year, the plan is to sell fresh goat’s milk in glass bottles.
Locally produced, and sold regionally.
Shouldn’t ANCCRAL and the Castro Marim council also consider using returnable glass containers for the yoghurt and milk in order to be completely sustainable?
It is the start of a local revolution in the milk market in Portugal, and another person responsible for this is Paula Rosa (aged 44), who manages the association and the dairy.
She told ECO123 about the small steps of progress being made over the last five years, and she sometimes even sells milk to a cheese dairy in Beja and Salir.
Where there’s a will, there’s always a way, she says at the end of our visit.
Paula \ Elsa
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