Magro Brothers has said that 2019 marks the 85th anniversary of Three Hills Brand Kunserva. This much loved Maltese delicacy started way back in 1934, in Gozo, and is still to this day, being produced according to the original recipe.
Below is the story of the 85 years of Three Hills Brand Kunserva…….
It was with Ganni Magro – a humble businessman from Xewkija – that the story all started. He had began his career as a general provision merchant in 1916.
Ganni l-Ghakrex, as was the family’s nickname, was conscious that business in Gozo was very limited and he always looked beyond the confines of the shores of Gozo and, eventually, even beyond those of Malta.
Ganni succeeded to make inroads in the lucrative market of the wholesale and retailing of foodstuffs. He also bartered products that he bought for seeds, animal fodder, and agricultural tools.
Gianni and his sons, who by then had joined the firm with his father to form Magro Brothers, ventured into yet another field in the 1920s that would eventually become the firm’s main business activity to present times – they started to purchase tomatoes.
The pulpy fruit was widely used in the local kitchen during the summer months, which was when the crop was at its best, but it was not cultivated on a large-scale.
The family started to acquire the available crop from farmers and to sell it to chandlers at the Valletta Grand Harbour.
The three Magro brothers had completely taken over the business from their father by 1934, They were established as leading general merchants and food distributors in Gozo.
Wigi, the eldest, was then thirty-four; Guzepp thirty; and Manwel twenty-two. Being young, full of vigour, and completely immersed in business, they decided to expand further.
Well aware of the vast quantity of milk produced in Gozo at that time, as well as of the steep rise in the sale of evaporated milk, they decided to take the initiative and set up a plant for the evaporation of milk.
However the authorities failed to issue the necessary permit to Magro Brothers for the dairy venture to take off as it was the time they discovered the cause of undulant fever from fresh milk consumption.
Magro Brothers had by that time taken the decision that they would start processing tomatoes for the production of kunserva, tomato-paste – a totally new venture for their firm.
The first kunserva production was canned in containers in 1934, with a capacity of five and a half pounds (5 pounds 8 ounces), equivalent to 2.5 kg. Grocers would then sell the kunserva by weight and roll it in grease-proof paper.
The Three Hills Brand Kunserva was an immediate success and it was destined to become, in a few years’ time, a household name in Gozo and Malta, as well as abroad.
Magro Brothers said that “from 1934 till today, 85 years on, Three Hills Brand Kunserva is still very much “fil-Qalb tal-Maltin” and will continue to be one of Malta’s staple kitchen ingredients.”
Photos: The Original Magro Brothers, Manuel, Wigi & Guzepp; and Ganni Magro