Food preservation techniques evolved from the need to take advantage of surpluses and to prolong the edible life of perishable foods so that they can be consumed out of time or transported over long distances. This has been the case of fish and shellfish, subjected to different processes, thermal and / or dehydration dating back to the pre-Roman times. It was nevertheless in the S. XVIII when the first significant advances occurred to observe that the heat and the cold brake the activity of the enzymes and the infection by pathogens. And so in the 1780s a method of preservation came into use, which consisted of boiling a container of food in a water bath. In 1810, Nicolas Appert (1749-1841) published L’Art de curator pendant plusieurs années toutes animal and vegetable substances. Thus, Joseph Colin (1784-1848) developed methods of conservation of Appert in his factory in Nantes. In 1818 was and in 1822, the first example of canned fish was produced: a can of sardines. In Spain, the origins of this industry go back to the time of Catalan migration arrived Galician Rías from the main salazoneras areas of Spain to commercialize sardine. These business brought new techniques of conservation. In 1836, the first Spanish factory for the conservation of fish in hermetic cans had already been operating in Galicia. The beginning of the XIX is marked by the boom of this industry in the Galician ports motivated also by the Spanish neutrality during World War I, that continued until the beginning of the Spanish civil war in 1936, that with the Francoism brought the international isolation And the scarcity of raw materials. Nevertheless, the growth of the Galician canning and processing industry of the 20th century was well above other relevant areas such as Asturias or the Cantabrian, the latter specialized in marinades. The decade of the 80 was initially marked by a crisis that led to a new restructuring of the sector. Since then, in order to continue in the struggle for international competitiveness, the Spanish canning industry has opted for modernization, internationalization, and R & D.

Today, Spain is the first producer of canned fish and seafood in terms of variety and the second in terms of quantity and Galicia the first national producer. An industry characterized by its family character that today operates worldwide with plants in numerous countries, assisted by ANFACO-CECOPESCA: National Association of Canneries National Technical Center for Conservation of Fishery Products, located as no, in the province of Pontevedra.


The large number of processing plants is capable of producing what is undoubtedly the world’s largest range of preserves. Not only Spain produces the usual canned tuna and other fish, mollusks and cephalopods, but also offers certain specialties in canned that in many cases are only exclusive of Spain. Spain is one of the most outstanding producers of the highest quality in seafood preserves, in fact sometimes the best pieces are left for the canning industry so that many Spanish canned products are considered gourmet quality. They come in different formats, ranging from cans to glass jars of different sizes. Today, of all canned products, tuna is the main product in terms of volume of production (68%) followed by a great distance of sardines and sardines (7.8%) of a great variety of fish (canned cod, mackerel , Mackerel …) and preparations (in olive oil, vegetable, natural, pickled …). According to data from MAGRAMA, the production of canned tuna amounts to more than 270,000 tons and those of sardines to about 16,000 and 5,000 mackerel. Regarding canned seafood, production exceeds 71,000 tons, with 23,620 tons of canned mussels and other preserves such as cephalopods, clams, cockles, zamburiñas, etc.. Finally, in semi-preserved fish, anchovies are their main processed product, with a production of more than 10,000 tons. Fish preserves are normally consumed at room temperature and are excellent ingredients for salads, or as a snack with a marked Spanish flavor. Spanish production of canned and semi-preserved fish and seafood reached 343,430 tonnes during 2014, with a slight year-on-year increase of 0.3%, after two years of declines. On the contrary, the value of that production decreased by 2.2%, remaining at almost 1,495 million euros. The decline in the price of tuna and the pressure of the downward markets appear to be the two main causes that explain this behavior so different from production in volume and value. In the case of tuna, a key element to explain the decline in prices has been the duty-free import of 30,000 tonnes of tuna from Ecuador. The average price of all these preserves decreased during the previous year by 2.3%. Canned tuna products are the main market share of the national market, accounting for 70.7% of all sales in volume and 63.7% in value. More specifically, the importance of canned white tuna and tuna, which together account for more than 50% of the total value of the market and 64.3% of the total volume marketed. In this case, production increased by 1%, while its price was reduced by 4.1%, remaining at 3.49 euros / kilo. At a great distance, canned mussels, with a percentage of 7.5% in both volume and value, followed by sardines (4.2% and 4.1%, respectively), mackerel (3.7% and 3% 2%), calamari (2.7% and 1.9%), sardines (2.6% and 2.3%), anchovies (2.5% and 6.2%), cockles (0.8% and 1.1%), clams (0.8% and 1.1%), clams (0.8% and 1.1%), , 4% and 0.8%). The remaining presentations of preserved fish and seafood account for 1.2% of sales by volume and 2% in value. Faced with the increase in the production of canned tuna, the number of mussel declines stands at around 2.1%, which is about 13,440 tonnes less. Neither were the results of canned cockles (-3.4%) and blades (-7.9%) good. Traditional canned sardines continue their loss of importance, 2.9% over the past year.
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Montse Gonzalez