SOVENA
Sovena Group: +351 21 412 93 00
Email : info@sovena.pt

HISTORY

HISTORY

More than a century of entrepreneurship and perseverance that combine to bring the world the best olive oil.

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FROM CREATION TO REVOLUTION

It all began in the late 19th century... Alfredo da Silva, recognized as the greatest Portuguese industrialist, was the man responsible for creating the first industrial, commercial and financial group in Portugal: Companhia União Fabril, or CUF, which resulted from the merger of two smaller chemical companies, União Fabril and Companhia Aliança Fabril.

In the early 20th century, CUF had already become the biggest Portuguese group. It had an industrial complex in Barreiro that was unrivaled in terms of its cutting-edge technology, business development and institutional modernity. Accounting for 5% of the country's GDP, it comprised more than 100 companies, produced more than 1,000 products, and employed 110,000 people. The scope of the business areas in which it operated was simply fascinating: shipbuilding, fertilizers, textiles, acids, edible oils and many more.

It was one of the very few groups capable of surviving two world wars, thanks to Alfredo da Silva's activity, courage, perspicacity and tenacity. However, in April 1974, the social and political instability caused by the collapse of the dictatorship in Portugal dealt CUF a death blow; it was the end of a successful group.

THE REBUILDING OF A GROUP

Initiative, courage, perspicacity and tenacity were the qualities that Alfredo da Silva was able to instill in his family and the following generations. As a result, when the country returned to a state of social and political stability, Jorge de Mello and José Manuel de Mello began rebuilding the Group.

In the 1980s, Jorge de Mello purchased Sociedade Alco, Algodoeira Comercial e Industrial, a company that extracted, refined and packaged edible oils, and, later, Fábrica Torrejana de Azeites, an olive oil factory in Torres Novas.

In the 1990s, more purchases followed, strengthening the Group's position in the edible oil and olive oil market. Lusol, whose activity consisted in extracting and refining oils and manufacturing soap; Tagol, responsible for extracting and refining oilseeds through a contract with the multinational Bunge; and Sovena, which was created in 1956 as the result of a partnership between CUF, Macedo e Coelho and Sociedade Nacional de Sabões, with the aim of selling vegetable oils and soap.

Since the goal was always to provide improved levels of satisfaction to increasing numbers of customers and consumers in the edible oil and olive oil markets, total control of the value chain and guaranteed sustainable competitiveness became essential.

INTERNATIONALIZATION

The start of the 21st century saw the Group embark upon an industrial restructuring, concentrating its extraction activity at Tagol and packaging at Sovena. A new wave of acquisitions also enabled a response to the growing needs of the global market.

In 2002, the Group acquired the assets of Agribética, in Seville, subsequently integrating it into Sovena Ibérica de Aceites, which was responsible for refining and packing vegetable oils, mainly olive oil. This allowed the Group to achieve surprising growth, which led to its becoming the leading operator in the Iberian Peninsula.

With such a strong and consolidated position in the Iberian market, the Group felt the need to bring its products to more people, more countries and more continents. It was at this point, in 2004, that it purchased Simão & Companhia, with the aim of relaunching its Andorinha brand on the Brazilian market.

This was followed by the acquisition, in 2005, of 80% of the capital of East Coast Olive Oil, the biggest olive oil importer and packer in the USA. That same year saw the incorporation, in Spain, of Tagol Ibérica de Aceites, to facilitate access to the sunflower seed market in that country, and the acquisition of 80% of the capital of Exoliva. The latter, a company dedicated exclusively to the preparation and packing of olives, essentially for export, was a significant player on the Russian, Ukrainian and Middle-Eastern markets.