- Campaign 2022 starts this year earlier, starting today
- Sardine fishing quota has a catch limit set at 29,400 tonnes
- Busy period for Pinhais employees, who in the past produced around 4.1 million cans
Another sardine fishing campaign begins today, a noble species chosen by the Portuguese, whose quality is internationally recognized.
In this year’s campaign, fishermen from the siege fleet will be able to catch up to 29,400 tonnes, 2,000 more than in 2021. The century-old Pinhais, an unavoidable symbol of the national canning industry, plans to absorb around 900 tonnes of sardines, similar to the previous year, the amount of which was used in 4.1 million cans of preserves. For the cannery, the reopening of the sardine fishing season means celebration, along with a period of enthusiasm in production, which brings great frenzy to employees.
As the only canning company in Portugal that maintains all its products using the traditional method, Pinhais begins with the start of the campaign the same ritual that it has preserved for over 100 years. Assuming a very strong connection to the local fishing community, the cannery starts the day very early at Lota de Matosinhos, where it participates in basket auctions, with 22.5 kg of sardines each. This process is essential to, on the one hand, ensure the suitability of Pinhais products, which are niche and recognized for their high quality, and, on the other hand, the sustainability of the local fishing community.
“Pinhais is strongly convinced of its role in buying the sardine basket at a fair price for the fisherman. It is a common comment at the Matosinhos auction that, when Pinhais leaves, the price of the sardine basket drops. It is essential not to let the price of the basket go to prices that do not allow the departure of boats and we are well aware of that”, explains João Paulo Teófilo.
For the manager of Pinhais, the quota stipulated for catching sardines in this year’s campaign “is expected and will allow the industry to have access to sardines under balanced conditions.”
This is a time when 93% of Pinhais employees (the remaining 7% make up the Museu-Vivo Conservas Pinhas Factory Tour), most of whom with many years of experience, begin intense work. It is during this period that they produce what the company sells throughout the year. The entire process, which includes about 40 steps, is entirely manual and they guarantee the recognized quality of the brand’s products.
After purchase, the sardines are cut, the entire gut being removed to avoid bitterness in the conservation process. This is followed by washing the sardines on the grills to eliminate any impurities that adulterate the maturation process and the cutting of fresh ingredients, such as carrots or chilli peppers. Resisting the temptation to produce more and faster, Pinhais maintains pre-cooking in steam ovens, followed by cooling, canning and sterilization. Then follows the maturation of the preserves, during the rest of the year.
“At the end of the sardine season, all our employees yearn for the fattest sardine and for having sardines with roe, a real delight. Last year, in the last month of production, in November, Pinhais was lucky to have eggs. The last time was in 2019”, concludes João Paulo Teófilo.
For Pinhais, this noble period of artisanal production of Matosinhos sardines is synonymous with great frenzy, but also with celebration, enthusiasm and joy among its employees.