We take stock after five years of taking over the brand

Currently we employ 12 people, a team formed mainly by people with disabilities, and we look to the future having consolidated the brand identity: people and territory.

Formatges Muntanyola trajectory completely changed when AMPANS took over the brand and convert it into a cheese factory that would employ people with intellectual and physical disabilities and people in vulnerable situations.
A new challenge for an organization that, back then, had no experience in the food sector.

Entrepreneurship is a key feature of AMPANS, that has been working to provide support to people with disabilities since 1965. Before starting the cheese factory, the organization already had launched Canonge restaurant in Manresa, and Urpina wines that were born at the same estate as Muntanyola.

“Our mission is to create decent employment opportunities for people with disabilities, mental illness and in vulnerable situations by creating business that will employ these people.
The handmade processes of cheese making allowed us to move forward to our goal, and the farm we inherit, thanks to a donation, allowed us to grow and generate opportunities for the inclusion of these people” says Toni Espinal, AMPANS General Manager.

The donation of Urpina, in Sant Salvador de Guardiola, opened a wide range of job opportunities in different sectors such as agriculture, vineyards, livestock, the goat farm and artisanal cheese production. AMPANS with its entrepreneurial business model decided to take over Muntanyola, a family business with over 20 years of history and many recognitions. The standards were quite high. Ampans needed to keep up with the quality of the product, the brand reputation, the clients trust, and a new motivation: people with disabilities.
AMPANS needed to keep up with the quality of the product, the brand reputation, the clients trust, and a new motivation: people with disabilities.
In 2014 a team from AMPANS moved to Muntanyola to learn the cheese making process. A year later the cheese factory was relocated to Urpina, Salvador de Guardiola and Formatges Muntanyola restarted the production.

AMPANS takes a very positive stock of the project. We learned a new profession; we consolidated the team and the job positions. The organization had different challenges: develop a strong brand storytelling, maintain the clients trust, root the project in Bages area, and keep up with the quality of the product and recognition of the former owners.
Strictly maintaining the original recipes, AMPANS aims to increase the production in the next three years to assure the economical sustainability of the project and reach a broader market.
At the beginning of the project only 50% of the workforce was in a situation of disability, whereas now most of the team are. Twelve job positions complete with the employees that look after the farm and the land.

For Salvador Vila life drastically changed with this project. He was born at Urpina and his parents were the donors of the estate.
For him, the cheese factory is a big part of his life, it allowed him to grow professionally and personally.
“I am very happy to work here, having a responsibility to wake up to everyday. My colleagues are very important to me” says Joan, that work at Formatges Muntanyola since the beginning.
And he has a reason to be happy, during the last 6 years he has contributed to maintain Formatges Muntanyola prestige, which has been awarded numerous times at different competitions such as the World Cheese Awards, Gourmet Quesos and Lactium.

These awards are a recognition to the quality and hard work of Formatges Muntanyola. Another characteristic feature of these cheese factory is that we work with 4 varieties of milk despite the challenges that this cause: goat (from our own herd), buffalo, sheep, and cow.
We sell 14 different references in Catalonia and some areas of Spain, and we export to the EU and the United States.

Committed to the environment.

Looking after the environment is inseparable condition of AMPANS. Since the beginning, the organization has been involved in respecting the environment and always looks for solutions to be more self-sufficient and sustainable. We have already taken some important steps such as the installation of a biomass boiler that supplies the energy to the cheese factory and the farm.

Formatges Muntanyola has also been working on the reuse of curd (the reject of the milk rennet). Looking for more sustainable packaging options
and its own herd of goats that graze in the open fields of the farm helping the maintenance of it with ecological certificate.

Looking at the future.

Five years and a pandemic after, the production has never stopped and Muntanyola is, nowadays, a consolidated project internally and externally.
It is because of this consolidation that Formatges Muntanyola is considering a rebranding better suited to its identity: and artisanal and social project.

“The renewal of our visual identity has been an opportunity to go back to our essence, the value of our mission: the people. The new labels capture what makes us unique: artisanal and unhurried production, respect for the environment and commitment to people.

Above all, we are a project with social value, that creates opportunities for the people we support” explains AMPANS General Manager, Toni Espinal.