Congreso Internacional de mujeres gastronomía y medio rural


FéminAs visits La Saregana, much more than a cheese factory in Asturias

David Salvador


In 2009 Yaiza Rimada transformed her family's cattle business into a cheese and yoghurt outlet due to the low prices milk was fetching at the time. After a time, and much hard work, La Saregana now produces what are acknowledged as some of Asturias's finest yoghurts.

In a mountain "concejo" of Asturias with a population of just over 1,000, the Rimada family have been livestock farmers for generations past. Years and years of earning a living exclusively from cows' milk, until the new generation arrived and the business was reshaped in 2009. Was it worth while continuing the business with the prices they were getting for milk? “The distributor was taking all of it”. So they decided to change direction. Not a big change, though. Their thing was cows and the mountain, and they set up the La Saregana cheese factory, a small company on a few hectares of land, run by two people. Initially the two people were Yaiza Rimada and her father. Now the business is run by Yaiza Rimada and her husband. FéminAs went to Sariego to take a look at the business.

The FéminAs contingent arrived in Sariego in the afternoon, in two buses that worked miracles to stay on the Principality's narrow roads. The Rimada family was waiting there to show them around "our little business", which started out making yoghurt and cottage cheese, and went from success to success with full-milk and skimmed-milk natural yoghurts, with strawberry, lime-lemon, mandarin and blueberries, and also cheese (natural "Quesu del Duernu", with fine herbs and "Encarnau") and traditional butters.

"Success" is a relative term. “We won't get rich. The business provides enough for both of us, and we're satisfied with that”, says Rimada. Because they do not intend to expand the business just for the sake of expanding it. “We don't have the space anyway. And we like to do things our way”. Which means: “The entire range is 100% natural and artisan, with no artificial additives at all. And this is because it is produced by Jersey cows - which give less milk, but better quality - Yaiza inseminates them, and allows them to give birth in freedom. “We keep tabs on them, but I want everything to be as natural as possible".

The artisan criterion is also observed in the packaging of their yoghurts, one by one and no plastic, and also in terms of distribution,  exclusively to small outlets, restaurants and environmental markets in Gijón (even though they can do this at other locations thanks to a specialist distributor). “I don't sell to supermarkets. If I did, what happened with the milk could happen again", she argues. The pros and cons of artisan premium produce in limited quantities. The luxury of top-quality local products.