Portugal Ventures announces successful exit of Nata Pura, the Portuguese custard tart that’s become a commodity

Porto, 15 December 2021 – Five years of working together with the Portugal Ventures team and annual sales of 12 million pastéis de nata later, Nata Pura (BY FOODS Group) has bought back its shares to ensure full autonomy and control of the markets in which it does business.

The goal was to internationalise a traditional Portuguese product invented centuries ago, sought after and loved by tourists but difficult to come by overseas. Nata Pura was established in 2013 to bridge that gap.

In 2014, Mabílio Albuquerque, CEO of Nata Pura, offered the product at a fair in London to test the receptiveness of potential customers before starting the project.

In 2015, Mabílio sought an investor who understood the project and its internationalisation potential to take the next step – this led him to submit the project to Portugal Ventures, who would make recommendations about the product and business model.

In 2016, he “fine-tuned” the project and resubmitted it to a new Call, receiving an investment of €830,000. This investment would be used to enter new markets and reach large-scale operators, preferably, in cities with 50 million inhabitants.

Thinking and dreaming globally, this is the example set by a project that, from the outset, was designed exclusively for foreign markets – 99% of sales are international, with only 1% of turnover derived from Portugal, with one point of sale in Sintra.

“The pastel de nata had to be liberalised, just like doughnuts, macaroons, muffins, cupcakes and French croissants. Our goal was to present it as a product with enormous potential to became a staple, a commodity, in the global market,” says Mabílio Albuquerque. “The creation of Nata Pura was a learning process. I knew nothing about making a pastel de nata, about logistics, palletisation, etc. It took a lot of resilience, trial and error, and believing. And it was only possible because we eliminated the word ‘problem’ from our vocabulary.”

Filomena Pastor, Engineering & Manufacturing Investment Director at Portugal Ventures, says that “we invested in Nata Pura (By Foods Group) because we recognised its potential for scalability and the sustainable ambition of the management team. By offering a traditional Portuguese product, with an innovative production process, and using an international B2B market strategy and approach, Nata Pura affirmed its potential, generating over €3.5m in sales and undertaking to expand to the four corners of the world, delivering an increasingly diversified product. With this investment, Portugal Ventures thus achieved one of the objectives of the Call to which the business’s project was submitted – contribute to stimulating innovation in and boosting the more traditional industries.”

100% made in Portugal, Nata Pura’s recipe is the closest and most faithful to that created by the monks three centuries ago, and uses natural and unprocessed ingredients. With a team of just 8 employees, BY FOODS exports Nata Pura to 30 markets, including those in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the United States, through retail chains like Costco, Prêt-a-manger, Domino’s Pizza and Paul Bassett in Korea.

Its pastel de nata (or Portuguese custard tart) has won the most international awards and Nata Pura aims to continue to gain scalability, not only in new markets but also in established markets where it only supplies one channel. Mabílio Albuquerque’s goal is to see a Nata Pura ordered all over the world instead of a pastel de nata, as is already the case in South Korea.

For Rui Ferreira, CEO of Portugal Ventures, “this project is a shining example that we have proudly nurtured, one that was made to go global and has been growing exponentially in international markets, taking an iconic symbol of traditional Portuguese culture, the pastel de nata, to the four corners of the world. Their success is largely due to the business vision of the Nata Pura team, which humbly and wisely conquered the world”.

Since the beginning of 20021 and to date, Portugal Ventures has already divested 17 portfolio companies, most notably the most recent sale of Mercadão to Glovo and of Zaask to Worten.