The story of Conservas Ortiz begins in the 19th century . Following the death of Lázaro Nafarrate in 1850, his daughter, Higinia Nafarrate, married Antonio López de Aréchaga and together they had a daughter, Petra López de Aréchaga Nafarrate.

Years later, in 1891, the founder of Conservas Ortiz, Bernando Ortiz de Zárate left Ondarroa for Álava with the idea of setting up a new business. He married Petra López de Aréchaga Nafarrate , and they had a son, José.

Bernardo learned his trade from his brother-in-law and began a career in the canning industry. His job was to purchase anchovies and north coast tuna from the coastal fishermen in the harbours, and, using pickle and wooden barrels to preserve the fish, he was able to sell them the following day throughout the north of the region of Castile.

He invented and implemented a system of mobile factories which worked exclusively on the coast with the aim of maximising the company’s performance.

Viuda de Ortiz e Hijo

Bernardo died while José was still young, and it was Petra who had to take charge of the business in the following years. The company was renamedViuda de Ortiz, and later, Viuda de Ortiz e Hijo.

The art of preserving gradually improved, and Conservas Ortiz was able to open five permanent factories along the coast of the Basque Country (Ondarroa, Lekeitio and Zumaia), Cantabria (San Vicente de la Barquera) and Asturias (Candás).


After Bernardo died, his wife, Petra, took charge of the business.

At that point the company was renamed “Viuda de Ortiz e hijo” (“Ortiz’s widow and son”).


The mobile factories only worked during the coastal fishing season.


The aim was to maximise the business’s performance.

Anchovies: The star product

At the beginning of the 20th century, Conservas Ortiz began to make its mark worldwide. Canning companies began to set their sights on Italy and countries with Italian immigrant populations such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Anchovies were the star product. The Italians brought their “alla vera carne” salting technique (using very little salt between layers of anchovies), to Cantabria: they knew that the region’s coast offered the very best fish. Here, they could produce semi-preserved fish products and send them back to Italy.

In 1942, José Ortiz and his son, José Antonio Ortiz, created the limited company which would later become Conservas Ortiz S.A. in 1956.

The fifth generation of the same family manages the company today.

Where we are today

At Conservas Ortiz we have great respect for tradition, coastal fishing based on the tides, and the exclusive purchase of north coast tuna which are line-caught, one-by-one. And our careful handling of the fish we use yields a product distinguished by its high quality.

The preparation of our first-class preserved products can be appreciated in the care we take in presenting them in beautiful, old fashioned packaging..


Visit our Memory Lane

Explore different moments in the Ortiz history, photo by photo.