The “Loja das Conservas” (Portuguese for “Shop of Preserves”) opens officially on Saturday (March 26) in the territory, aiming to bring the quality and know-how of a centuries-old industry that Macau knows well but with new range of options.
To better understand the shop’s concept, its goals and product range, the Times spoke to one of the managers, Sara Costa, who together with Gabriela Cheang embraced the challenge of opening this special place in Macau.
Macau Daily Times – What was the idea behind the creation of this shop?
Sara Costa (SC) – The idea was to bring Portuguese canned products to Macau, a place where the market for these goods has already been established for a long time, but in a different way and with a wider variety and with the whole [canning] industry represented under the same roof. We are talking about a shop that has established a protocol with the National Association of Manufacturers of Canned Fish (ANICP) so we can have a very clear idea of what the Portuguese industry is producing now and in this way we are a showcase for these products.
MDT – Why Portuguese canned products?
SC –The quality of Portuguese canned products is great; they are very genuine products with a long tradition, full of history and with many stories to tell.
Our goal is to enlarge and to diversify the offering that is already available in the Macau market, and to give people here tastes that are different from products that they are familiar with.
We want to unravel the idea that some people still have, that canned food is something to keep in the house for an emergency or a fast dish. We are presenting high quality products that in fact can be for special occasions, and that make an entrance; be they an exquisite appetizer or part of a special dish.
MDT – Macau will have the first shop holding this “brand” (Loja das Conservas) outside Lisbon and will also be the first shop to offer these products outside the European Continent. Why Macau?
SC – This concept was dreamed up in Lisbon where we have two shops at the moment. We have other sales outlets in shops where we place our products in several locations in Europe such as Paris, Vienna, Warsaw, and we are aiming for a few more locations across Europe.
Macau we thought made sense due to its cultural connections and links, its cultural heritage and the presence of these products in the market for many years. We were also challenged to do it here by local partners that had the interest and knowledge of our project in Lisbon and we were happy to embrace that overall synergy and to move into Asia through Macau.
MDT – Can this kind of product captivate the interest of the Asian market?
SC – We sure think so. For the moment, is difficult to say clearly what people like the most, as our trial has only been running for a few days. But from this very short experience we can say that it has been running quite well. The products are not unfamiliar to people, they are used to them, and recognize them almost immediately, especially the sardines and the tuna. But the main aim is to encourage them to actually try it because that is when they get really excited about it.
We have a very wide range here, different sauces, and different tastes and not only for the most common sardines and tuna, we have a range of new products like the codfish, the squid, mussels, eels …
We purposely incorporated other flavors among the more common products, presenting them pickled, spicy or in sauces to differentiate them from the regular products people can find in supermarkets and other shops of that kind.
MDT – The shop is located in a traditional area of the city where tourists mix with locals: is this the range of customers you target?
SC – Yes, we focus pretty much on everyone – local communities, foreigners living in Macau and tourists –
it is really a mix of everything. Everyone is now in a stage of discovery about the shop but we can say they mostly look for a similar range of products because they come for the variety. They take with them the sardines and the tuna but also the salmon and mackerel.
The location is another advantage of this project. We spent a long time searching for the right place, one that could match our target and also the ambience that we wanted to transmit. I think we achieve that here, in between the hustle-and-bustle of the city center and the peace and relaxation of the beautiful Rua da Felicidade.