Biscuits and cookies that are a delight

\\ Text Filomena Abreu
\\ Photography ©Daniel Camacho

In Valongo’s oldest factory, everything seems shrouded in ancestral charm. The aromas are just the same as those enjoyed 143 years ago. The quality too. And as you step into the Paupério biscuit shop you understand that history has become tradition and that this has not been lost over six generations, who have guided the destiny of the family business. Quite the contrary. It has been enhanced, mainly by their customers. The old tins and the unmistakeable flavour still attract looks, causing memories to reignite and winning over the most demanding of palates. This is how this vintage brand has earned increasing numbers of fans, at home and abroad.

Growth in tourism in Portugal which has led to greater demand in gourmet groceries.

Their little ‘torcidos’ biscuits are just so good. But so are their vanilla cookies! It’s hard to choose just one favourite among the biscuits and cookies offered by Paupério. Everything made at the oldest factory still in operation in Valongo, in Oporto, looks delicious. Right from the aroma lingering in the air before you enter the shop, the antechamber to the simple factory and to the beautiful office.

143 years in existence are down to the fact that «this factory has managed to remain a family business» Hélio Rebelo, its managing director assures us. Today, the factory is now in the hands of the sixth generation. But without the success of its old recipes, it would have nothing. «If there hadn’t been product quality, if there hadn’t been respect for how biscuits and cookies have always been made and continue to be made, naturally with necessary adaptations that today’s legislation obliges us to make, things would be difficult».

Paupério came into being in 1874, when two friends decided to set up a factory making bread and biscuits - Paupério & Companhia. The idea was to use flours milled in the Valongo mountains. However things became complicated in this joint venture and the Figueiras ended up with the business, while the Paupérios remained only in name.

«Our turnover is currently around 1.1 million Euros, around 10% of which is from the international market»

«Over these 143 years what has happened is that we have always been lucky that in these generations the company has never been in the hands of more than two or three people», the managing director stresses. Hélio explains that «with know-how in place it was every easy to make it to today». The current market, strongly partial to ‘vintage’ products, also made an important contribution to ensure the company continued to grow. This was later joined by growing tourism in Portugal, which has led to an increased demand for gourmet groceries, thus enabling growth in production. «Our biscuits and our cookies are not meant for mass consumption. We acknowledge that major supermarkets have much more affordable products than ours. Our assortments are to give to people, they’re gifts, they’re mementos», argues Hélio.

There are three outlets selling Paupério products in the country. In the factory shop, in Valongo, in another in Rio Tinto and also in Bom Sucesso, Oporto.

All this leads the managing director to say, without fear, that the name has never been so strong. «The brand sells itself. And people have the notion that when they open our assortments they will find quality in our product». And quality begins in the packaging, which still reflects traditional design. Some are sold in tins. «Our turnover is currently around 1.1 million Euros, around 10% of which is from the international market, which is a market we are now going to focus on». This venture has involved having a ‘Portugal 2020’ EU funds application approved. «We were lucky to see our merit recognised for us to work the international market better. To this end we are going to export to countries in central Europe, where Portuguese emigrants can be found. In this way we will reach places where we wouldn’t have gone without this financial aid», the managing director happily admits.