Mª Àngels Puertas: “Aixada Preserves is the fusion between handicrafts, local agriculture and family”

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Aixada Preserves

Aixada Conservas is a line of gourmet tapenade preserves, sold alone or accompanied with other foods such as anchovy, as well as jams and vegetable preparations. In addition, under this brand they also offer baskets of fresh vegetables directly from their orchards.

Aixada Preserves was born in 2015 thanks to the desire of Ma Àngels Puertas Badorrey and her husband to continue with a legacy passed on from parents to children for three generations.

Although Ma Àngels has worked for nearly 40 years in the textile industry, at the same time she has always been involved in agriculture and cooking, continuing the example of her family, livestock farmers throughout their lives.

Today, Aixada Conservas produces in the community workshop of VEAMAT, the Municipal Food Business Incubator of Tagamanent Town Hall. There they found the most economical and appropriate solution to put into practice their knowledge and make their dreams come true.

At TERRA Food-Tech® we deeply value the work done by small producers and micro-entrepreneurs to maintain, transmit and preserve local cuisine. For this reason, we want to explain her experience in the world of gourmet preserves through this interview, where Ma Àngels explains why she decided to become an entrepeneur, how she did it and what the results of her adventure have been.

Interview with Aixada Preserves

Ma Àngels Puertas from Aixada Preserves with tapenade.

Ma Ángels, tell us what Aixada Conservas is.

Aixada preserves is the culmination of years of dedication of three generations of the same family towards agriculture, on a small scale, and the artisanal preparation with recipes from our great-grandparents.

How did you come up with the brand name, “Hoe preserves” Aixada Preserves?

We believe that it reflects everything that symbolizes the company. We still keep the hoes that our grandparents used to work with in the fields, who are older than I am, and I am already over 55…

In fact, besides working the field with these hoes, we still grow and produce in the same way as my grandparents did. It’s a way to honor them, to remember them. Although they are no longer with us their legacy will always accompany us, we are here for them. We have only followed their footsteps.

What were the reasons that made you open this small gourmet canning business?

It was pure coincidence. We have always made canned food and we love cooking, but we only did it inside doors, for our family. And, by chance of life, these products ended up in the hands of more specialized people who were very interested in marketing them and then we truly became aware of their potential.

This fact was the spark, the last push, to do something we have always wanted to push forward, to sell our own products to the consumer.

What steps have you followed?

First, think and decide which of the recipes we have always cooked could be more suitable for marketing.

Then evolve these products, that is, improve them as much as possible before they went on the market, which took us almost a year.

And from there, when we already had the product well defined, we had to focus on everything that surrounds the product. Define the brand, the labeling, look for containers suppliers, do a market study to adjust the price as much as possible… But the main thing was the quality of the product itself, and the rest came later.

Once the product was defined it was time to present it to the public, we had a clear picture of the kind of store we wanted to go to, stores that bet on quality products and put value to our product and thus reaches end customers who appreciates this type of canned food, the quality of raw materials, the craftsmanship and the work that each jar really brings inside.

Aixada Preserves have been opening their way through these shops and also fairs where we have been invited. This has allowed us to meet many people, who have recommended us to their relatives and acquaintances and have opened doors to other stores where they usually buy. What this demonstrates is that our products are very liked by the public.

What has been the most important thing when it comes to getting there?

I would say that the most complicated barrier are the obstacles that the Administration puts you. Just as we have found, even within the Administration, people who have helped us a lot on a personal level, the bureaucracy of starting a company or undertaking a project like this is so monumental that if you are not very convinced it is easy to finish deserting, throwing the towel.

In the end you realize that all this political discourse of helping entrepreneurs that we have heard so many times is not true at all. At the taxation level, speaking from my experience with the Spanish administration, it is absolutely wild the bad treatment that these small companies receive, even more though when these companies end up giving jobs to many more people.

What has happened to you after becoming an entrepeneur?

The decision to become an entrepeneur has not only been a pride in being able to say that what at first was a dream has become a reality, but it is also a personal growth journey due to the number of people we have come to know and that has transmitted to us such a warm positive feedback loop, this is priceless. We are very grateful for the hospitality we have always received, we know that we have been very lucky to find people so nice that it has helped us a lot.

Where can we find Aixada Preserves?

We do not have a fixed store precisely because we have this spirit of producers. Although we do not rule out doing this last step of owning a store of our own. Without forgetting that we owe ourselves, not only to the end customer, but also to the stores that have bet for us. If we have gone this far it is thanks to them.

All these stores can be found on our website and also on our social network (@aixadaconserves), in which we publicize our products and those of our colleagues, as well as easy-to-make and very appetizing recipes.

In addition, we have a fixed stop at the local market of the Plaza de la Corona de Granollers every Saturday morning and participate in other markets and specific fairs.

Aixada Preserves produces its gourmet preserves in the Municipal shared workshop of Tagamanent City Council (VEAMAT). How did you become aware of this council initiative and why did you choose to join it?

We learned about this initiative through the Earth Products Network. At that time, we were looking for a workshop with a non-permanent stay, similar to what was offered in Tagamanent. We could say, that again, it was all thanks to chance. It happened that it appeared at the right time and that we met the right people who offered us this possibility.

Tagamanent for us, in this case the City Council and, especially, Ignasi, its mayor, will always be part of our growth and we will always be very grateful for his help. Hopefully, other municipalities take note of initiatives such as that of VEAMAT.

What problems did you have when making canned foods?

Our production is completely artisanal. Based on this basis and considering that we do not add any kind of additive or non-natural preservative, we were exposed to certain problems at first. Problems arising from the intake of air in some jars, to find the ideal temperature to process the final product, to the optimal amount of each ingredient so that they do not interfere with each other… Finally, we have reached a point of excellence thanks to the mastery of our TERRA Food-Tech® autoclave and the control of the acidity of our processes. Mastering autoclave sterilization was essential to achieve our final product.

Preparation of Aixada Preserves with TERRA Food-Tech autoclaves.

What steps did you have to follow to solve it?

We already had some experience with the theme of traditional conservation. However, we realized that we needed help from a food expert to solve many of our doubts. Finally, with the entry of the autoclave to the Tagamanent workshop, we met technicians from TERRA Food-Tech® who helped us achieve an optimal level of control of our elaborations.

Do you think the world of gourmet preserves is a business opportunity?

The decision to devote ourselves to this sector has not been by chance. We come from a long journey, although not commercial, but from making preserves that gives us a certain experience that we could say is part of us.

We believe that more and more people are betting on local and natural products. They know that they have a very positive impact on our health and that they are delicious. In addition, if they have a beatiful story behind much better.

What advice would you give to that person who like you want to introduce themselves in the world of preserves?

Patience, be exigent with yourself and have always a good will, a superior purpose. The rest is secondary. If you put these three things on the table the positive synergies with other people will come along with time.

Thank you so much Ma Àngels for accepting this interview. From TERRA Food-Tech®, we wish you good luck in your adventure, you deserve it!

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