For a pure rice cook, the concepts of paella and export are contradictory, because if the grass is overcooked, the dish has no value anymore, and of course cooking it in Valencia and eating it in Paris or Berlin seems minimally impossible. demanding palate. At Valencia company Gastraval they don’t think so, and in fact the paella and rice dishes they produce every week at their factory in Catarroja are already sold in 13 countries. Moreover, according to director Mattieu Allais, they are now aiming to make the leap to North America and Asia.
The company was founded in 1983 by the Velarte family as a takeaway paella business and later expanded into the convenience food industry. In 2007 the founders sold the company to Tecnofoods, a machinery company, and in 2013 PP and the Generalitat Valenciana’s Stator Management fund headed by Máximo Buch, former Minister of Economy, entered with the majority of the capital. These investments have allowed the company, which employs one hundred people and expects to reach 14 million turnover this year, gradually grow by 12% compared to 2021, when it has already grown by 70% to 11.6.
Gastraval’s core business is rice and fideuà, ignoring the first attempts at making pasta and risotto. Allais explains that the company follows a “very traditional” process because “we make them in fizzy paella.” There are actually 20 of these containers, each one and a half meters in diameter. What the company sells best is mixed paella (meat and fish), but also Valencian paella, arroz a banda, black rice or cooked rice.
“Then we pack it in plastic trays, pasteurize it, and sell it frozen or chilled,” says Allais, who solves the cooking point problem this way.
In addition, the Valencia firm produces what it calls a base for preparing rice: namely broth and chips. It sells its products in large stores and supermarkets, both under its own brand and under the distributor brand, and on the Horeca channel (hotels, restaurants and cafeterias). In the first case, those that are mainly marketed are finished rice dishes, while the bases are what they buy, especially the second ones, adding the accompanying vegetables, meat, fish or seafood to broths, broths, fish or seafood shortens preparation times and accompanies rice or noodles for french fries.
The company produces 200,000 servings of paella and bases each week. Currently 95% of sales are in Spain and uniquely in the Mediterranean, honoring tourism, beach and a bit of rice. However, the company has already started its export route with the sale of its products in 13 countries. The UK is its main foreign market, followed by France and Belgium.
Allais assures that each country “interprets paella in its own way and we adapt to the customer”. This means that rice sold in France must contain sausage and peas. In the UK, it was previously supposed to contain the same sausage, but now mixed paella dominates. In other countries, consumers want the food to contain less salt than in Spain. No one ever wanted it to be spicy.
Currently, the company’s R&D department is focused, among other things, on making paella that “does not require refrigeration and is distributed canned.” Under the premise of “Spanish gastronomy is very popular everywhere”, it is one of its aims to explore international expansion currently through the United States and Asia, with China and Korea as initial targets.
Allais assures that Gastraval’s growing success has led its owners to consider increasing their existing facility, which covers an area of 3,000 square meters, or even investing in a new factory to meet the growing demand.
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