Canned fish is generally considered an inexpensive food. But in Portugal, sardines are a delicacy, and this little fish has become a national symbol. Marketing contributed a lot. A few stores in the nation’s capital play an important role in this success story. See the report from Digi24 and Deutsche Welle program “Focus Europa”. The show airs on Fridays at 10:30 PM and repeats on Saturdays at 7:30 PM.
Canned sardines, back in style
A century old recipe. The contents may be the same, but on the outside, the sardine can has been given a new look. Tiago Ferreira updates this dish.
Diego Ferreira, Retailer: “It’s the power of design. It works well psychologically. Because the product in the box remains the same, the quality remains the same.”
Portugal revives a classic product. One shop is called “The Wonderful World of Portuguese Sardines” and there’s nothing reminiscent of fishing inside.
Luisa Palos, manager: “People are attracted by the colors, the music and the movement inside. We want to create an experience for all the senses. To introduce people to the amazingly diverse world of canning.
Jeroen Johnson, tourist: “The atmosphere is wonderful, it’s amazing how it presents everything.”
Olga Smilovska, tourist: “It’s amazing, probably the paradise of Instagram addicts who can photograph all the boxes.”
Beyond the cans, the humble sardine is doing its part to improve prospects in Portugal. Lisbon capitalized on this in its tourism campaign.
Canned fish industry representative José Freidas: “Young people are increasingly eating canned fish. It’s a new market. We promote it by implementing new ideas and creating a different image so that people buy Portuguese products. Even if they are a bit more expensive than imported ones.
After joining the European Union and trade agreements with Morocco, Portugal’s canning industry struggled; Modern marketing will mark its rebirth.
For some, this may be a problem, even though once declining sardine populations have recently rebounded.
Henrik Vaz Pinto, bar owner: “Tourism can use the sardine as a symbol, but it shouldn’t promote its consumption. For example, they should promote canned fish like horse mackerel.”
Once considered a poor man’s food, canned sardines are finding their place in gourmet restaurants. That’s mostly thanks to smart marketing.
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