When a Swiss distributor approached the people in charge of El Pastoret de la Segarra at the last Food Fair in Barcelona, they might not have believed what they heard. He suggested bringing their products to a country with such a tradition in the production of milk and dairy products as Switzerland. Said and done. As soon as he started exporting to Switzerland, traders from other countries were interested in his yoghurts. In less than a year, the Lleida-based company has placed its products in stores in Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Finland.
Although the internationalization came almost overnight, it is the fruit of the Pont family’s work for more than 20 years. Xavier Pont and Teresa Vallès founded the company in 1992. “We are a family with a culinary tradition. We like good products and good food at home. We started with a small herd of goats. From his milk we made a traditional Catalan cheese, the Mató. We liked it a lot and decided to produce something different. We saw that people liked it, so we started a small cheese factory that produces a little more volume and already specializes in mató and fresh cheeses,” explains Xavier Pont, the company’s managing director.
THE BIG LEAP
Gradually the company established itself at the same time as its slaughtered and fresh cheeses were consolidated as references on the Catalan market. With the launch of its new factory in 2010 and the development of its yoghurts, sales made a huge quantitative leap. “Now we have built a 5,000 square meter factory and process around 35,000 liters of milk per day, i.e. around 300,000 units per day,” specifies Pont. The company has grown from a small family cheese factory into a factory equipped with the latest technology, ready to face the development of its business with guarantees. But something was still missing to underpin the growth: expanding the distribution network and starting sales abroad.
“We needed commercial investment. A capital increase was carried out in order to meet market demand and to be able to grow,” explains the manager. This expansion was completed late last year and saw entry into the STS Inversions group, which took over 40% of the company for just over €1 million. This injection of funds has helped to advance the configuration of the national distribution network and to create an export department able to cope with the interest that its products arouse beyond our borders.
MULTIPLE SALES CHANNELS
Pont explains that the company is “multi-channel” to maximize sales. Most of El Pastoret’s turnover (about 65%) comes from sales in supermarkets and hypermarkets. The products marketed are essentially their yoghurt creams, the original yoghurt recipes.
Gourmet shops have a lower weight (10%-15%), but they contribute significantly to branding. Its items are found in chains that host delicatessen rooms, where it markets its finest range, Caprichos de Yoghourt.
The hospitality channel also contributes around 10% of sales to the total bill. Many restaurants use El Pastoret products as a base for their desserts or as an ingredient in other dishes – soups, salads… -. In addition, the company has contact with renowned chefs who incorporate the company’s various references into their recipes. An example is Pastoret-Martín Berasategui Yoghurt Delights.
Finally, the company supplies the food industry, which uses its products as the basis for preparing its recipes. Thus, it offers all types of dairy products (yoghurt, fresh cream, fresh or aged cheese…) used by manufacturers of confectionery, ice cream, pasta and pizza, pre-cooked, etc. This industry accounts for 15% of total sales.