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Where tradition meets modernity – a closer view at the business of Portugal’s typical food – “bacalhau”- the cod fish

caxamar

Central Portugal of the middle Tejo region has a lot to offer- from the religious sanctuary of Fátima and the famous city of Batalha up to the Serra de Estrela National Park. One of the touristic attractions is also the medieval town of Ourém - its narrow streets, picturesque old houses with lots of history and enchanting view from the mighty castle over the surrounding hills is something you may loan for on a quiet, slow, Portuguese afternoon.

The first steps in the country of bacalhau lovers
In the middle of this fairytale landscape, just a few kilometres from the town, you will find the municipality of Seiça- the place where Caxamar – cod fish enterprise was one established. Taking a rest in one of the restaurants or just stepping by into a nearby pastelaria you can enjoy the country’s typical food in the snack form- a Bolinho or Pastel de Bacalhau – a fried cod fish appetizer. Cod fish, or Bacalhau in Portuguese, has a very long tradition in the country and is often being referred to as Portugal’s most treasured dish that can always be found on a Portuguese table, beginning from festivities like Christmas Eve and Easter, when Bacalhau is the main dish served. Although cod fish cannot be fished at the coastline of Portugal and has to be brought from the distant and much colder waters near Norway, Iceland and Newfoundland in Canada, it gained great popularity it among the Portuguese. This history dates back to the 14th century, still before the Age of Discoveries, when Portuguese sailors traveled the world, spending months on the sea and relying on fish as the main food source. The Caxamar company, created by Manuel Mendes Bastos and his wife back in May 1989, was started as a traditional wholesale and retail family enterprise at first. From the very beginning, the quality of the products offered was of great concern to the founders and managers, who were trying to get possibly close to the sources. This is why ten years later (1999) the first industrial plant has been built, a plant that allowed the import of the cod fish, from different destinations and directly from the supplier. This is how the company was able to start controlling the whole transportation and transformation process.

The company, its mission & innovation and investment plans
Caxamar sees its mission in providing the best cod fish for the national and international markets. The biggest pride of each enterprise are always the satisfied clients, suppliers and partners and it is precisely this aim that drives the company forward. Caxamar cooperates with regular suppliers with whom it is trying to keep close partner relationships, this being the only way to foment trust and stability - and of course –create best market conditions. Today Caxamar is proud to guarantee its customers high quality services from supply and sale up to solving of any arising problems. This is also why the company keeps on investing and modernizing its facilities, always staying up to date with the newest technologies and developments. In 2013 the big modernization and enlargement project of the whole production unite has been concluded, a project that integrates the existing production line of the dried and salted bacalhau with the new one - of soaked, deep-frozen cod fish. At the moment the company is finalizing a big investment project (MAR2020) of almost two million Euros – that includes the acquisition and modernisation processes of the production lines. As far as the future planning is concerned -there are also plans for building a new facility, that should allow a bigger production, storage and logistics capacities, this resulting in the growth of employment and creation of new jobs. One of the Caxamar’s aims is also the market diversification, both in terms of clients and products to offer, so as to be able to reach even the most demanding customers, nationally and internationally. Integrity, dedication, ethics and passion are values Caxamar is building on, with respect for everyone participating in the venture and its activities. For Caxamar cod fish is a real passion and it can be easily noted in the way the company conducts its business, beginning from the selection of suppliers up to the moment the fish is served to the client. CAXAMAR is formed by people whose aim lies in providing high quality cod fish according to Portuguese tradition; the enterprise is driven by passion and focused at the satisfaction of its customers. It is a daily job that requires dedication and a lot of effort.

Production process
There are two different ways Caxamar processes the cod fish: as a dried and salted bacalhau, which has always been the most popular way of consuming cod fish in Portugal up to now and as a soaked, deep-frozen fish. During the first process the fresh cod fish after been caught stays in the salt for a couple of months, afterwards it is being washed, so as to take off the exceeding amounts of salt. Finally it is dried, packed and brought to the market for sale. During the second process the cod fish, finished its “bath” in the salt is being sliced into smaller pieces which are located in tanks with sweet water, where the fish loses the unnecessary salt. This way the cod fish is able to maintain the texture and taste it gained during the salt processing. In such form it is also ready for cooking. Then follows the deep-freezing process and packing. This process allows the consumer to have the bacalhau always ready for a fast meal.

Looking into the future: the rebranding of 2019
This year CAXAMAR is celebrating its 30th anniversary. This historical event has given impulse to a big rebranding of the mark itself and the scope of its products, which have already gained a stable market position and continue keeping up with the commercial tendencies, meeting the requirements, needs and expectations of its consumers. The company is focusing on the presentation of its new image and on marketing the new product lines for the national market. Promotion, marketing and communication of the company’s values, aims and products to a broader public are something Caxamar wants to focus on in the near future. The enterprise is also working hard, so that its activities don’t have a negative impact on the environment. As a result of these efforts, Caxamar gained the MSC certification from a nongovernmental organisation of the same name, something that follows the company’s social and environmental responsibility policy. Being aware of the social impact it can have and showing concern about the well-being of its community, Caxamar is also participating in different local activities, supporting various charity, sport and cultural events.

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