Some mates with… Ruben Bjorklund
05 May 2022
We chat with Ruben, Managing Partner of Cuatro Caminos SRL, a company dedicated to the cultivation and production of yerba mate.
What is the company story?
We are a family business dedicated to the cultivation and production of yerba mate that was created in the 1960s with my grandfather, uncles and father. Starting in 1970, my father took over and it became a sole proprietorship. It was always a yerba dryer and in the 90’s we decided to make an SRL and start grinding yerba. We began to work on the mill, always supported by some farms.
In 2003 we made the decision to start working with organic production and that’s when we turned to OIA for certification. It was a time when not many people understood the concept of organic and believed that consuming a conventional product was the same as consuming organic products, but after 10 years they began to internalize and differentiate this type of production.
With the desire to continue growing and meeting the needs of our customers, in 2008, we built a belt dryer with a heat exchanger to indirectly heat the air that enters the dryer and prevent the yerba mate from coming into contact with the combustion products.
Today, in addition to our crops, we have more than 20 producers that supply green leaves, and we carry out drying, milling and packaging services for more than 15 brands.
What values does the company have?
Our motto is honesty, transparency, having a good company and thus generating and producing a quality product.
Why did you decide to turn to organic production?
Our intention was always to sell to the United States, Sweden and one of the obstacles was the conventional product, while being an organic product we had greater access to the most demanding markets. In addition, we knew that consuming organic products made a big difference for health, it was something new, innovative and being pioneers in the Misiones area.
How important is organic certification?
For us it is very important because it allows us to differentiate an organic product, to be endorsed by an institution such as OIA that guarantees that said product is not treated with agrochemicals.
What characteristics does organic yerba mate have? What is the difference with the conventional one?
Undoubtedly the quality of the product is its main characteristic, we put emphasis on that, we have improved and worked on this aspect, for example we are a smoke-free dryer, from the high temperatures of more than 1300 degrees in the burning that makes that all the components of the smoke disappear, allowing us to have clean air and thus improve the quality of the product. As for its difference from conventional yerba mate, its appearance and flavor may be similar, but its biggest difference is that organic yerba mate is free of chemical products and care for the environment is respected throughout the production process.
What are the benefits of organic production?
It favored us to control the pests that the yerba has, for example the roller, which is one of the pests that most affects Misiones, which is a fly that pricks the leaf, by not putting chemical products we have the rest of the insects that are benefactors such as dragonflies for example, made it possible for us to combat any plague simply by letting nature take care of it.
How can the consumer acquire the products?
We have an online channel where you can buy our products https://www.cuatrocaminos.com.ar/ and you can also find us in dietetics.
What goals does the company have for the future?
We would like to produce tea bags and loose tea (black tea, green tea and red tea) and also make some aromatics, mainly from the area such as chamomile On the other hand, we would like to develop and strengthen our own trademark.
¿Qué es la producción orgánica?
La Producción Orgánica en Argentina está regulada por la Ley 25.127, sus Decretos y Resoluciones, estando a su vez definida por organismos oficiales y privados internacionalmente reconocidos e incluye un sistema de certificación y control. Los términos orgánico, ecológico y biológico son sinónimos y solo podrán aplicarse a productos que cumplan con esta Ley.
Se trata de un sistema de producción sostenible que promueve el cuidado ambiental, mediante el fortalecimiento de la biodiversidad y la actividad biótica del suelo. Son además alimentos trazables, producto de un sistema de normas y fiscalización reconocido internacionalmente. La producción orgánica “combina tradición, innovación y ciencia para beneficio del ambiente compartido, promueve relaciones justas y una buena calidad de vida para todos aquellos que intervienen” (IFOAM, 2008).
Se basa en el uso mínimo de insumos externos, sin uso de fertilizantes y plaguicidas sintéticos, ni manipulación genética. Se utilizan métodos que minimizan la contaminación del aire, suelo y agua. Así los productores, manipuladores, procesadores y comerciantes de alimentos orgánicos se rigen por normas que mantienen su integridad.