Maria Canales

Updated Wednesday, April 3, 2024-01:47

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The story of

Los Peperetes

is a beautiful, familiar story that began little by little, as its protagonists assure. It is also a story of love and success. Of love for the land and for tradition, and of success because what began a little more than 30 years ago as a hobby in the back of a restaurant in Carril, a coastal parish in the Galician municipality of Villagarcía de Arosa, in Pontevedra, is Today a

small empire

with clients halfway around the world.

Royal homes

, Michelin-starred restaurants and well-known personalities from all walks of life, including chefs

José Andrés

and

Quique Dacosta

and former footballer

David Beckham

, have fallen in love with the exquisite gourmet products of this family-owned cannery.

Jesús and María Antonia Lorenzo were the founders in 1993 of this business (today in the hands of their three children) whose name, a word rescued from the colloquial Galician vocabulary, evokes something pleasant, tasty, exquisite, beautiful... "My parents had a small seafood restaurant in Carril, where the most beautiful thing was my mother's hand in the kitchen and my father's attention in the dining room. My father, now deceased, had grown up in the canning sector and had it in his blood, so One day, to entertain himself, he bought a can seamer and began to make small batches of five and ten cans of a special cockle that a sailor friend of the town brought to the restaurant. He also canned portions of the recipes that my mother cooked, such as squid , a xoubas stew... and he kept them or distributed them among his friends," says Jesús Lorenzo Jr., general director of Los Peperetes.

Over time, they realized that preserves as careful and specialized as those that Jesús made did not exist on the market, so they closed the restaurant and decided to take advantage of that large untapped market niche and create the brand. A brand that today

manufactures half a million cans a year

, has a turnover of around two million euros, is present in 37 countries and has award-winning references among the

best canned products in the world,

according to the World's 101 Best Canned Products From The Sea ranking.

"Almost all Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain work with some of our references, and internationally, our products can be found in places as curious as

Uganda, the Philippines, Thailand, China

...", says Jesús, who assures that 35% of Los Peperetes' production is destined for export. One of the most important international markets for the Galician company is the United States, where for ten years it has collaborated with

the Spanish chef José Andrés

through a line of co-branded gourmet preserves.

Artisanal elaboration

Los Peperetes has

52 references among its products

, from cockles, mussels, clams, sea urchin caviar, scallops or razor clams to squid in its ink, bonito, belly, sardines or cod. Generic that arrives daily from almost all the markets in Galicia and is then made in an artisanal way. "Sardines can pass through the hands of our operators in more than six different processes, from cutting the head to gutting the guts with scissors, packaging and placing them inside the cans, etc." And, according to the manager, manual and artisanal treatment is one of

the three differentiating values ​​of the company

, along with the excellent raw materials from the Galician estuaries and the homemade sauces they make there. "They are my mother's recipes who, at 73 years old, still make sure they come out the way she likes them."

The cockle

is the star of the cannery, the most iconic and demanded product, to the point of having a long waiting list to get it (can price depending on size from 20 to 39 euros). There is also a list to buy clams and belly in butter, and the sea urchin caviar always goes directly to the gastronomic ones. In addition to those mentioned, Los Peperetes has other exclusive and original products in high demand, such as

barnacles

(the only manufacturer in Spain that makes this canned seafood) or canned snow crab, which comes from Greenland and is one of the most sought after in the world. "This crab and the small squid are the only genus that is not from Galicia, the rest, everything comes from here."

Beckham's sardines

Another of its star products is

sardines in olive oil

, a silver medal for the best preserved sardine in the world, according to the aforementioned ranking. They are also

David Beckham

's favorites

, as he has made public several times on his social networks. Since the former English footballer shared a photo on his Instagram profile posing with a can of this fish saying "My favorite preserves", the impact has been enormous and the increase in sales has been considerable, according to the company.

"Beckham has 87 million followers on Instagram, so the media

boom

has been enormous. For us, this altruistic gesture on his part represents publicity that we could never afford," says Jesús. An advertisement that has been produced for three years.

David Beckham also shared on social networks the lot that Los Peperetes gave him in 2024.

Connoisseur of the brand, David Beckham posed for the first time with his "favorite" preserves in 2022, when he ordered them to eat at the Soucoupe restaurant in the

Courchevel ski resort,

in the French Alps. He did it again in the same place in 2023 and again in 2024. "The restaurant has been a great customer of ours for many years and only buys a very special batch of our sardines, very small, which they have in a display case with other products. And every time David goes he orders them and eats them there; apparently, he already knew them," says Jesús. "This year, in gratitude, we sent a batch there."

But, regardless of the

Beckham effect

, the truth is that the type of customer of Los Peperetes is the level of the footballer and its products are aimed at those profiles with high purchasing power. "Our portfolio of private clients is very powerful and we pamper them a lot. It is very worthy of the products we manufacture." Among the most exclusive are the cans of 12/14 pieces of

natural clams, at 65 euros

, or the sea urchin caviar, at 37 euros, or the 120 g of natural barnacles for 20 euros.

The freshness of the pieces is unbeatable, according to the executive: "A cockle, a razor clam, a scallop... they arrive alive from the market where we buy them at auction to our workshop (as the company calls the factory, due to its small size). size). They are put in a pool with sea water overnight to purify and the next day they are taken out and the cooking, cleaning, preserving processes begin... All in 24 hours. But if we talk about the sardines "These are caught in the morning, we receive them around 8 am and before six in the afternoon they are already in their can and ready to consume."

Quality before quantity

At Los Peperetes they are happy with the future of the business and they know that one of their biggest bets is

quality

, which is why they have no special interest in growing more. "We are a small factory located in a small town and with very humble facilities. It is not a factory, we call it an artisanal canning factory and we do not want to grow," says Jesús. And he argues: "We are at figures that are acceptable to us; we have the capacity for growth and even the operators could work in two shifts, but they only do it in one because, at the moment, we are not interested. We have the business very controlled, the Galician seafood gives what it gives, we cannot ask for much more from the sea and if we want to respect the level of quality at which we are at the moment, the intention is not to grow in volume but in quality, to enhance the brand and the image," says the businessman.

Los Peperetes does not have its own points of sale, only a direct store in its workshop in Carril and through its website, so its main source of sales is specialized stores. "We touch the hospitality industry with some products, but gourmet stores, including El Corte Inglés, are where the public buys from us," concludes Jesús.

Where

: Rúa Valentín Viqueira, 28, Carril, Pontevedra. Tel.: 986 565 374.

Hours

: Monday to Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.