Finisterra – Cooperativa de Lacticínios do Topo, CRL was founded on May 22, 1944, becoming since then a local front line institution in economic, social and cultural terms, taking on the promotion of the cooperative culture within our community.
The founders of this institution were: Germano José Gomes, José Tomas Nunes, Manuel Silveira Gonçalves, António Joaquim dos Reis, Manuel Mendonça e Ávila, João Alves dos Ramos, Guilherme Luís de Oliveira, João Silveira de Azevedo, José Nunes Belo, Manuel Cândido de Matos, Victor Bettencourt Brasil, António Joaquim Francisco, José Brasil Aguiar and António Silveira Leonardo.
From this group of founding associates was formed the first Board of Directors, which has brought up a generous idea of sharing in a community distant from the main centers, even in São Jorge Island – especially at the time – and thus in need of stimulating self-improvement even as an essential way of survival. The chairmen of this house since its foundation were: Germano José Gomes, Manuel Mendonça e Ávila, José Joaquim Borges Jr., José Tomás Ramos, José Tomás Nunes, José Luís Coelho, Manuel dos Santos Silveira, Lourenço Ventura da Silveira and José Leovegildo Sousa Azevedo.
Finisterra – Cooperativa de Lacticínios do Topo, CRL has inherited a tradition of associativism in which it stands out, as far as it is possible to go back in memory, a small private factory located in Lameiro, leased by Manuel Constantino Borba, and that worked without any by-laws and was not legalized.
Meanwhile, our cooperative was constituted in 1944 on the initiative of a group of farmers who hastened to elaborate and approve the by-laws, thus legalizing the entity. At the same time, a private corporation called Nova Aliança was operating in Santo Antão, whose owners were: José Borges, Amaro Coelho, Manuel Oliveira, João António, Manuel Teixeira (from Santa Rosa), João da Ponta, Manuel Teixeira, father (from Ribeirinha), Jaime Teixeira and Jaiminho (da Urzelina).
The two entities were merged in 1947 and were joined in the first building of Finisterra – Cooperativa de Lacticínios do Topo, CRL, where the Nova Aliança operated until then. At the location stands today the Church of Santo Antão.
Another significant moment in the life of the cooperative is the decision of the General Meeting, in 1984, of building a new factory in Ribeira das Lixívias, which was inaugurated on August 15, 1986. As it became outdated in terms of quality and quantity considering the associates dynamics in milk production and bearing in mind the evolution of knowledge, technology and the market demands, the factory had to be replaced, which came to happen after a new resolution of the General Meeting, in 2005, and the new industrial facility was inaugurated on August 5, 2009.
The year of 2003 is very significant in the life of Finisterra – Cooperativa de Lacticínios do Topo, CRL, as it was extinct the archaic system of milk collection based on posts scattered throughout the Topo area, all built before 1958, except the one in Cruzal built that year. The direct milk delivery at the factory, replacing the post collection system, introduces potential gains in quality, which was impossible with the old outdated system..
HEADING TOWARDS THE FUTURE
With its new industrial unit, Finisterra – Cooperativa de Lacticínios do Topo, CRL, is now equipped with a factory built from scratch, designed with forward-looking spirit and equipped with cutting-edge material specific for the production of raw milk and its transformation into cheese with maximum quality assurance.
The new factory was designed to guarantee the generalized production of high quality cheese, capable of not only competing with the Portuguese and European markets, but also with the most demanding and interesting North American market – not only in the so called “mercado da saudade” (the market of the Azorean emigrants).