Since 1873, the history of Palacio de Oriente has been linked to the people whose work and enthusiasm have given shape to its founders dream.
Towards the end of the eighteenth century, Napoleon offered a reward to anyone who could provide him with a method for keeping food in good condition over long periods of time. It was Nicolás Appert who discovered that food could be preserved for a number of years by heating it in hermetically sealed containers. Thanks to this he was awarded the Benefactor of Humanity prize. Appertization marked the birth of industrial canning technology.
Preserves reached Spain in 1840 when a French sailboat was shipwrecked off Finisterre. Preserves were made in glass containers until the Englishman Peter Durand, began using tin cans, which gave the preserve greater resistance and protected it from the effects of light, thereby preventing the deterioration of the vitamin content.
D. Antonio Alonso Santodomingo, a pioneer in the Galician canning industry, was born in Bayona in 1844. Before turning 18 he emigrated to Havana, Cuba, where he remained for almost twenty years working in the textile trade. It was there that he met his future wife, Eloisa Gimenez-Cuenca, with whom he would go on to have six children: Pedro, Guillermina, Rodrigo, Antonio, Mauro and Salvador.
After returning to his birthplace, Antonio Alonso sets up his own company. In 1873 the well known Conservas Antonio Alonso was born, giving a strong boost to the local canning industry that existed at that time.
In 1886 the founder built a warehouse that would later house his Factory in Vigo, with sardines in oil being his main product. It was situated at what was then called Campo da Barxa, and is now known as Arenal.
Antonio Alonso acquired two steam powered fishing boats, the San Antonio and the Santo Domingo, which were dedicated to fishing red sea bream, with the aim of transporting the fish by rail, for sale in Madrid. The surplus would be marinated and tinned at a plant in Guixar that was shared with numerous other local shipowners.
Following the founder's death in 1917, the General Partnership Antonio Alonso Hijos was founded by his sons, Rodrigo, Antonio, Salvador and Mauro in 1918. During the first World War, the Alonsos became one of the leading suppliers of tinned goods to the various armies, for this purpose, they established a branch in Bordeaux, which was later transferred to Nice. Thanks to the profits raised, the factory at the Arenal in Vigo doubled in size and boasted the most modern machinery available.
Conservas Antonio Alonso had been set up as an export company, targeting the markets where preserves were most widely known at the time: France and Belgium. That is why their first brand Palais d'Orient, was so well received at the Brussels International Fair in 1922. Also, in that same year, the Alonsos bought the salting factory in Pescadoira (Bueu).
In 1924 the Setubal factory went into operation (it was the main canning port in Portugal) in response to the sardine crisis that the Rías Baixas were facing. The following year, 1925, the Celeiro plant opened to improve access to Cantabrian tuna and anchovies.
In September 1927, his majesty King Alfonso XIII visited the big factory in Vigo.
The company was divided into two new firms. On one side was Mauro, who continued as a sole trader and on the other were Rodrigo, Antonio and Salvador, who established a new company called Conservas Antonio Alonso.
Antonio was the one who remained most closely linked to the canning industry, thus it was his son, Guillermo Alonso Menéndez who took charge of the main factory they had at that time, in Setubal. In 1967, Conservas Antonio Alonso became a limited liability company and his grandson Guillermo Alonso Jaudenes became Managing Director of the company after securing a broad consensus among all the partners in the family firm.
The Guixar plant, which had been in operation for almost 30 years, was closed. Celeiro started to specialize in tuna products, with Bueu taking control of the rest of the production, whilst management and central offices were established in Vigo.
The headquarters in Vigo were situated on calle Zamora, they were later relocated to Ctra Vigo-Bayona 127, where the main warehouse was also placed. From that moment on, a new era of advancement and modernisation began, including the acquirement of ISO quality certifications, the development of advanced computer systems which were subsequently passed over to SAP, the entering of new international markets, the development of new products and so on.
The factory in Bueu suffered a fire in 2011 that completely destroyed the entire building. As a result of this, Conservas Antonio Alonso completely renovated the plant, equipping it with the latest production process technology and incorporating the most innovative automation in the industry.