In 1915, Josep Zulueta i Gomis founded the Cooperativa CADÍ, with the help of a group of far-sighted farmers. It was the first in the dairy industry to be formed in Spain. Thus, the cooperative marked the beginning of a socioeconomic project that would restructure the county’s farming community. And since then, its milk has been the force driving progress in the region.
Cadí is the fruit of the hard work and enthusiasm of a group of people who have come together around a single idea: to create a new model for agricultural activity that offers future growth and provides a living for the local people.
The area also had a very strong cheese-making tradition; the farms used to make cheese for family consumption and any small surpluses were sold at local and county fairs. So, while wine growing declined, the acres of pastureland and the number of cows increased.
In 1915, the Cooperativa CADÍ was created with the initial goal of producing and selling beef. The increased meat production also generated a milk surplus for which a market had to be found, and the first industrial-scale facilities were built for butter and cheese making.
At the same time, a number of livestock owners belonging to the cooperative decided to import a Swiss race that was known for its high milk production, mating the bulls with the highest milk producers of the local breeds.
Between 1940 and 1960, this was the main type of cheese sold in the main population centres in Catalonia, such as Barcelona, and it became very popular.
Originally made using craft methods, new techniques were gradually introduced to improve the quality, in a process which still continues today, and which led to EU recognition in 2000 as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO, expressed as DOP, for Denominació d’Origen Protegida, in Catalonia and Spain).
The counties of La Cerdanya and L’Alt Urgell, protected by the Cadí Mountain Range to the south and joined by the Segre river basin, form part of the Catalan Pyrenees. With very similar climates and physical features, they make up a system of small valleys and meadows along the river and its tributaries, where nature is fertile and well-preserved, rich in flora and green pastures.
The Mediterranean mountain climate is ideal for this type of pastureland and forage fields, which give the milk in this area its differential bouquet, enabling dairy products of outstanding quality to be made.
What does a product with the Protected Designation of Origin
(PDO, or DOP in Spanish and Catalan) certificate mean?
They are agricultural products or foodstuffs that come from a particular geographical area or place, whose properties are significantly or exclusively determined by the geographical environment, including natural and human factors, and whose production, processing and preparation take place within the geographical area or place that gives the designation its name, including traditional designations of foodstuffs, whether or not such designations are of a geographical nature.
They are healthy, good-quality products, but when we choose a Catalan ‘DOP’, we are not just looking after our health and palate; we are also promoting local trade and the region’s economy in general. There are 11 Protected Designations of Origin (Denominació d’Origen Protegida, in Catalan and Spanish) in Catalonia, five for extra virgin olive oil (Siurana, Les Garrigues, Oli del Baix Ebre-Montsià, Oli de Terra Alta and Oli de l’Empordà). But there are also other products such as Reus hazelnuts, Ganxet beans, Ebro Delta rice, Lleida pears, and L’Alt Urgell and La Cerdanya cheese and butter. The last two are made by CADÍ.