Organic oaxaca cheese may not be as common as American type single slices, but it has a definite niche in the dairy aisle. Produced by Grupo Industrial Cuadritos Biotek, S.A. de C.V., the cheese contains different ingredients than many of its competitors. “In today’s market, there are very few organic dairy products,” notes Juan Vaca, director of administration and finances at the company. “Our organic products help set us apart from others in the market.”
Based in Celaya, Guanajuato, Cuadritos produces and distributes a wide range of dairy and soy products, including milk, cheese, cream, dressings, yoghurt, soymilk and snacks with added soy protein.
Today the company distributes its products throughout Mexico. It also exports some of its products to the United States and Guatemala. As a company, Cuadritos brings in more than 800 million pesos each year.
MORE THAN 50 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE
Cuadritos first began in 1961. During its early years, the company produced fresh cheese products in the city of Celaya, Guanajuato. The setup, with operations carried out in a small production plant, continued for the following 25 years.
At that time, the company moved operations to a nearby property that covered an area of 15 hectares. In 1988 it launched its first processed cheese product; several years later, in 1996, it opened a plant to oversee soy milk production. Then in 1999 Cuadritos opened another plant for ultra-pasteurized shelf stable milk production. In its milk plant, the company now produces nearly one million liters of milk per week.
Five years later the firm made a move to consolidate business operations. “Before 2004, we had different companies for various activities, including one for transporting products to customers and another dedicated solely to production,” notes Vaca. “In 2004, however, we joined all of the different forms of production to create just one company.” This arrangement resulted in the name the company now goes by: Grupo Industrial Cuadritos Biotek, S.A. de C.V.
In recent years, Cuadritos has undergone a number of moves toward expansion. The company opened branches for its products in the cities of Monterrey, Guadalajara, Mexico City, Cancún and Querétaro. In addition to these major Mexican cities, it also extended its presence across the border. Two years ago Cuadritos entered the United States market by forming an alliance with Colorado Ranchers Dairy Products, Inc., a U.S. Latin products distributor based in Denver, Col. They are also opening cheese production facilities in Brush, Col.
Of all the products the company currently makes, its top product can be found in American Type cheese single slices. “We were the first in the market for processed cheese,” says Vaca. “It’s the product with our own brand that we sell the most, and we currently have three packing machines for this kind of cheese.”
Another product the company produces that helps set it apart from others involves the addition of soy to other items. “We have a plant that produces items such as tortillas, bakery and snacks that are fortified with high nutritional quality soy protein,” explains Vaca. With many snack options in the market, the soy items help add an extra nutritive element to the company’s product line.
Cuadritos sells its products under a variety of brand names, including some of its own brands and also various products that carry the brand name of its clients. Under one of its own brands, known as Hollander, the company makes Manchego, Oaxaca, and Panela style cheeses. It also produces yoghurt, cheese, and milk under the bové brand. Under its brand Cuadritos, the company sells cheese, cream, yoghurt and ultra-pasteurized milk. It also makes organic products with the labels Boulder (soy milk) and Bové (dairy). It also makes Premier plus, Casablanca, and Biolac for food service and mom and pop stores.
In addition to these, the company produces a line of products called Nutrición y Vida, which are designated to the Fundación Nutrición y Vida, A.C., an organization in Mexico with a goal of fighting hunger and malnutrition. The products under this brand have a high protein content and are offered at low prices. They include yoghurt, tostadas, tortillas, bakery, milk, and corn-flavored snacks.
Cuadritos has also been named the supplier for a number of large companies in Mexico. The company now produces organic soymilk under the Wal-Mart brand, as well as milk with the Chedraui label and cheeses with HEB brand. It manufactures products for several dairy companies with a national presence in Mexico. On the international level, Cuadritos exports petit suisse with the HEB brand and cheese with Queso Campesino and Cuadritos brands to the United States.
During the last five years, sales for the company’s products have climbed by more than 10 percent on an annual basis.
In addition to expansion efforts, Vaca notes that part of the company’s recent growth can be attributed to its experience in the market, quality compromise and its R&D strength. “Clients see that we have years of experience in milk production, and that we’re able to follow the dairy formulas they have to make their products.”
To carry out operations, the company has a number of different plants. One of these is dedicated to yoghurt production, another to fresh cheese, and another to soy products. It has two plants for its processed cheese production, an additional plant for ultra pasteurizing processes, and a plant for its products with added protein. All of its plants, together with company headquarters, are situated in the city of Celaya, in the state of Guanajuato.
While the company maintains a strong focus on production and distribution, it also recognizes that one of the main driving forces behind its end products can be found within the factory walls. Today, nearly 1,250 workers carry out operations at Cuadritos.
“The term ‘human resources’ hardly exists here,” notes Vaca. “That’s because we want to place an emphasis on treating our employees as real people.” The company has a wellbeing department, which focuses on planning sporting events, holiday celebrations, and other activities. Each month, the department organizes an event to celebrate birthdays, and recognizes one individual as “employee of the month.” The employee of the month is awarded with a three-day trip to the beach, family included.
“Every December we hold an event that workers can come to with their families,” adds Vaca. Between 3,000 and 4,000 people usually show up for the event. “We may lack some things, but we really work to stress the importance of people at our company.”
Efforts to recognize employees have resulted in a number of benefits for Cuadritos. One of these can be seen in the low turnover rate. “Our last analysis showed that workers stayed with us, on average, for seven years,” notes Vaca.
Looking into the coming years, Cuadritos has plans to increase the exports it currently sends to the United States. “We’re in Colorado, but we want to establish a presence in other states, such as Texas, Georgia, New Mexico and Utah,” explains Vaca. Cuadritos also has its sights set on the south, with a goal of sending its products to countries such as Guatemala and Costa Rica in Central America.
In addition to its expansion plans, officials at Cuadritos are looking into strategies to further develop brands such as Cuadritos, Bové, Boulder and Hollander in Mexico. “We want others to recognize us for our own brands on a national level,” says Vaca.