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PORTUGAL OVERVIEW


Whereold meetsnew


PORTUGAL


IT’S TIME FOR THOSEWHO HAVE LOST TOUCH WITH PORTUGAL’S FOOD OFFERING TO GET REACQUAINTED. DANIELLE MYLES REPORTS


O


ver the years, countries with strong manufacturing tradi- tions risk becoming driven by


cost, economies of scale and output. Portugal is not one of them—while goods exports have risen over the past decade to hit $67bn in 2019, ‘Made in Portugal’ has become syn-


onymous with quality, innovation, sustainabil- ity and craftsmanshipamong in-the-knowcon- sumers. Big contributors include family busi- nesses whose willingness to adapt has seen themthrive for generations. Portugal nowexcels in sectors not histori-


cally associated with it, such as technology and pharmaceuticals. Meanwhile, traditional industries, such as textiles and machinery, are reinventing themselves—blending old know- howwith the latest techniques. Agrifood is another example: food repre-


sents more than 10%of the country’s goods exports, and some of themost exciting export- ers are in the Ribatejo region to the north-east of Lisbon. Take the Sugal Group: one of the world’s


largest tomato producers, it supplies brands and supermarkets in more than 70 countries which benefit from the family business’s verti- cally integrated operations.“We are not just a tomato producer, we are also farmers,” says chief executive João Ortigão Costa. “The pro- duction process starts in the fields by choosing the right seeds and variety for each customer and product.” Its innovation centreworks closely with


farmers to adopt techniques requiring less water, less fertilisers and, in the future, less


Farm fresh: Sugal Group supplies more than 70 countries


machinery. “Together, we are bringing this sec- tor into the 21st century,” saysMrOrtigão Costa. In 2012, he had the foresight to start pro-


duction in Chile, making Sugal the only large tomato producer with significant production in the northern and southern hemispheres. “We are the only one that can harvest crops and supply its customers twice a year. It also means we are able to react to our partners’ needs more rapidly,” he adds. Another sustainability leader from


Ribatejo is Mendes Gonçalves, a condiments producerwhose Paladin brand reaches more than 30 countries. The chillies for its piri-piri sauce are grown in an agroforest regenerative systemwith 8000 trees. “In the coming years we will take further steps to produce more food in this way,” says chief executive Alexandra Mendes Gonçalves. The company’s mission is to become a ref-


WE FULLY BELIEVE THAT A GOOD QUALITY INGREDIENT WILL INFLUENCE OUR FINAL PRODUCT


74


erence for the ‘food of the future’. “That means having a positive impact on society and environment, reducing food waste, and deliv- ering an on-trend product,” she says. The com- pany sources nearly 90% of its rawmaterials from Portugal, only turning to foreign mar- kets for items which not locally available. “We are very proud of our Portuguese origins and we fully believe that a good quality ingredient will influence our final product,” says Ms Mendes Gonçalves. Its focus on tailor-made solutions means it


has 1700 different products, and its R&D department is constantly experimenting. According to Mr Ortigão Costa, as a small coun- try with an export-focused agrifood industry, this persistence is the key to success: “The only way we can compete is through quality. That can’t be imposed. It’s something that we work on every single day.”■


www.fDiIntelligence.com February/March 2021


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