Day 2 of International Trip –  February 26th

Our first visit of the day was at the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon.  The Embassy is located on a historical estate in the heart of Lisbon.  Portugal was the first neutral nation to recognize the U.S. as an independent Nation, and the U.S. and Portugal have maintained Consular relations since 1776.  During this visit, we met with representatives from the Foreign Commerce Service, Foreign Agriculture Service, Public Relations, and Economics.  Through our discussions, we have a better understanding of the roles of each of these departments in promoting U.S. agriculture goods, trade, and public perception of the U.S.   Currently, Portugal is in a severe drought, and the conversation centered around imports of U.S. commodities.  Portugal is less restrictive of genetically modified (“GM”) crops, and Portugal typically bases its imports on price versus GM or non-GM crops.

Afterward, we enjoyed lunch in Óbidos at Muralhas, and then traveled to visit Lic Óbidos that produces Ginja Mariquinhas, or cherry liquor.  This family business was started approximately 70 years ago and is the biggest producer of sour cherries in Portugal.  We toured the production facility and learned about the production and bottling of the final product that includes a mix of different varieties of cherries to maintain a consistent product.  Lic Óbidos produces approximately 35,000 bottles per year and continues to grow each year.  One of the final products is a barrel aged cherry liquor.  The cherry liquor is marketed in parts of the U.S. as Ginja9.  We enjoyed sampling the cherry liquor.

Then, we traveled to Peniche, a city along the Atlantic coast of Portugal.  While in Peniche, we toured the Nigel fish processing facility.  At this location, the Nigel facility processes over 200 types of fish from various locations around the world, including frozen and fresh fish.  The fresh fish may be wild caught or from aquaculture production.  During our visit, we observed the processing of cod fillets, including descaling, filleting, and brining of the fillets.  We also saw the cutting line where Nigel employees were cutting blue shark.

Our final stop of the day was a farm near São Martinho do Porto that was started in 1989.  Phillipe was very kind to receive us even though it was nearly dark.  His farm is 60 hectares and has consisted of 70% apples and 30% pears, and he has now added strawberries.  The farm is near the coast of Portugal where the winds can be strong, so wind breaks are necessary to protect the trees.  Phillipe discussed transitioning to organic production and the cold storage systems.  Phillipe kindly allowed us to sample the Gala apples in cold storage.