Our Story

The Mateos story has its origins at the beginning of the 20th century, with a small rudimentary soap factory. Today the company uses the latest technology for the treatment of fats and natural oils, whilst it remains a completely family concern, both regarding its capital and its control of the business.


Juan Mateos Gil was born in 1885 in a small mountain village in Avila. Having no major work prospects he immigrated to Valladolid. Here he began to work as a shopkeeper and in 1913 the opportunity presented itself to open his own business by taking over a soap factory in the Calle Puente Colgante.

This was a very basic factory making plain soap, which in those days was the only method of washing available, prior to the existence of washing machines. Four or five employees carried out the necessary process for obtaining the soap, using the saponification method (oil or fat was mixed with soda and was heated in a cauldron. This was then left to dry and was cut with a wire).

His customers were both shopkeepers of Valladolid and also companies, including Renfe and the navy. Different marketing methods were used outside the province for these products. Juan Mateos himself travelled by train throughout the country with samples (on one of these trips to Galicia he met the women who later became his wife, Leonor Ruiz).

In 1939 he made his most important investment ever up until now, when the opportunity arose to buy 88% of the Sociedad Anónima Vallisoletana de Colas, Gelatinas y Abonos company shares. This company consisted of a factory in Cabezón de Pisuerga which since 1910 or 1912 had manufactured carpenter’s glue from the bone gelatine of animals. This product fell into disuse with the appearance of synthetic products in the 1960’s but the factory continued its production until 1981 and was the last to close in Spain.

It is interesting how full use was made of the products since the raw material for the soap production was made from a sub product . At the time raw materials were scarce, especially the meat from which the bone was obtained.


In 1952 Juan Mateos and his three children, Jesús, Ángel and Mariano, formed a limited liability company.

This company became the owner of half of the territory of Vallisoletana de Colas in Cabezón de Pisuerga, where a new, larger and more modern soap factory was constructed. The facilities were now even more complex: a ripsaw for improving the quality of the fat (converting it into fatty acid); a soap machine; a cutting machine; dies for the branding and a drying tunnel. The move to the new factory took place in 1954. The factory had a railway siding which meant that the wagons could be directly loaded up, and apart from rail transport lorries were also used.

The product marketed with its own brands: MATESA and RULA, and customers continued to be shopkeepers and storekeepers throughout the whole of Spain.

In the 1960’s, with the appearance of automatic washing machines, which became common at the beginning of the 1970’s, almost all plain soap disappeared and it became an obsolete product in the developed world.

Investment effort was then made to improve the quality of the products and to branch into the hand soap market. To do this, a distillation plant of fatty acids was constructed which led to the output of intermediate raw material for different applications, the first of them for washing machine detergent.

The change was gradual but fast, with progressive reduction of soap manufacture until it became almost residual.

From the beginning of the 1970’s, customer typology changed and it became necessary to create a control laboratory to pass the standardisation exams and to verify the conditions of the process and of the final product. The company’s main activity from then onwards became the sale of liquid distilled fatty acids.

Soap manufacture dropped greatly, but it was still produced residually in two different ways, the first being hand soap (HENAR, JARA and COMODÍN).

The second was the sale of soap chips as hand soap base, before the addition of essence, colour, shape branding by multinationals. The relocation of multinationals in the mid-80’s led to the end of Mateo’s S.L. as soap manufacturers.

In the 1980’s, one of Mateos’s best customers confirmed a change in formulation which required the saturation of fatty acids, and this required a complementary industrial process of fatty acid hydrogenation. To continue in the market strong investment was needed.

This evolution opened up opportunities. For the one part, it provided access to new sectors within fatty acids, such as the tyre and rubber industries, and also detergents. It also opened up another line of hydrogenated fats for human consumption.

In January 1993 the central offices were moved from Valladolid to Cabezón de Pisuerga; this move also symbolically marked the passing from the second to the third generation, similarly to the 1954 move of the factory had been the second generation taking over from the first.

THIRD GENERATION (1994-present day)

In 1993 a new area of development began within the area of livestock feed: what are called bypass or protected fats opened up a range of possibilities for the development of new products which has continued up to the present day.

In 1997 the business decided to invest in a 7.5 MW cogeneration plant for electricity production, guaranteeing self-supply, with this being the most important investment the company had taken on until now, whilst simultaneously being an environmental improvement.

Between 1999 and 2004 the company invested in new deployment and distillation, continuous product and automation control facilities. It also installed a hydrogen production plan for self-supply and the installation of a wastewater treatment plant to adaptation to environment regulations. It also invested in the installation of calcium zinc stearates, and a stearate dispersion manufacturing plant.

Between 2010 and 2017 Extension of the stearate manufacturing capacity incarnating magnesium stearate and increasing product range by incorporating “dust-free” products into our catalogue.

Between 2018 up to the present day, we have again invested, by incorporating a new fractionation facility, a new investment record, extending the fatty acid range by including oleic and palmitic acids- Along with these new facilities we have provided our laboratory with a new space and replaced machinery. We aim to continue in the same spirit as when our company began.