The Portuguese Canning Industry

The Portuguese Canning Industry
In the early nineteenth century, Frenchman Nicholas Appert invented the principle of food conservation by heating it in hermetically sealed glass containers, achieving a shelf-life that had been impossible before then. Englishman Peter Durand developed this idea by patenting a metal casing that would ensure and further extend the shelf-life of the canned goods. Thus, the canning industry was born. 

The abundance of fish and the entire length of the Portuguese coast, with its long history of fishing, were the ideal conditions for the canning industry to take hold in Portugal. And so, the first fish canning factories appeared in Portugal in the middle of the nineteenth century; in 1884 there are records of 18 canneries in Portugal, rising to 66 in 1886, and 116 in 1912.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, with the start of World War I, the Portuguese canning industry flourished and factories that provided food for troops on both sides of the conflict mushroomed; by 1925, they numbered 400. But if the two World Wars propelled the industry into prosperity, their end dictated a crash from which the canning industry never recovered (if we consider that the number of factories is an indicator of success). The loss of its main market outlets coupled with a shortage of fish and the arrival of canned food from North Africa into the market shook the industry. Of the many fish canneries that existed in Portugal before World War II broke out, there are now only 21. 

Currently, the domestic market consumes about 35% of production and the Portuguese canning industry exports to over 70 countries, with growing demand that is worth more each year. The wide range of fish options and their quality, and the fact that it is a long-lasting natural product without colouring or preservatives have aroused the interest of great international chefs who see in canned goods an interesting alternative to be combined with dashes of creativity.

With over 150 years of history, the Portuguese canning industry has experienced all possible states: from a shy, budding entrepreneur, it went through a prosperous period during the World Wars (becoming the largest producer in the world!), then went through a period of decay in the post-war period during which canneries almost ceased to exist and fell into the trap of low prices. Today, the Portuguese canning industry works towards creating an ecosystem of value for canned goods that guarantees competitiveness and, in some cases, holds 'gourmet' status, as a proud national symbol – as we do at Comur. 

Our strategy is simple and open: to enhance the value of canned goods, showcasing the best that the Portuguese Sea has to offer the world in a great tribute to the women of Murtosa, in tin plate cans that tell the history of Portugal and extend, with a characteristic humble pride, the limits of the national territory.
Mar 2020 | Portugal 2020
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