Only a few years ago they were the delicacies that visitors ‘couldn’t get enough of’ and dreamed about when they got home.
Now, that’s all in the past as Portugal’s signature pastéis de nata have gone ‘global’.
Wherever you find yourself – London, Bournemouth, New York, Singapore, even Macau – you can now be assured that the dream of biting into a soft but delicately crisp egg-custard tart will be easily fulfilled.
Says Bloomberg, it’s down to the government’s 50 million euro a year foreign promotion of Portugal and the best of its national products, and an inspired marketing campaign.
Result: “An unlikely dessert is on its way to becoming as ubiquitous as the croissant”.
But more of that ‘inspired marketing campaign’.
It “took a page from international brands like McDonald’s and adapted the pastries to local tastes: matcha green tea and passion fruit for Japan; Brie, Camembert and blue cheese for Paris” and so on.
‘Sacrilege’ purists might rail, but Mabílio de Albuquerque, the founder of Nata Pura wasn’t trying to please a Portuguese audience, says Bloomberg. He was taking the humble nata to the world … and is now doing so in truck-loads.
The company sells about 500,000 natas a month in 5,000 stores around the world.
“De Albuquerque says sales are between 1.5 million and 2 million euros a year, and he expects that to double this year”, says the news service.
More than a third of Nata Pura’s business comes from South Korea, where one of their customers, the CVS chain, is poised to offer them in 12,500 stores.
Meantime, in Portugal they’re still the delight coffee-shop fans will find in almost every display case – just make sure they’re fresh as a stale nata is a sad way to start the day.