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Spanish seafood firm inks e-commerce deals with Amazon, Ulabox

Group recently launched 16 products of its branded brand at a Spanish online retailer.

Spanish group Scanfisk inked a deal with e-commerce behemoth Amazon UK for its Mr. Fisk range, the second major deal the company has struck with an online retailer in recent months.

In addition to Amazon, Scanfisk launched 16 product lines on Spanish online retailer Ulabox, which began featuring the products on its portfolio on May 12. The company already sent some of its production to Amazon UK, and expects the products to appear online for sale soon.

“This is what we do, we are where we have to be...the idea is to be reachable, so that people can find us from everywhere,” Jorge Alonso, chief marketing officer at Scanfisk, told IntraFish.

'Adapt or die' was a management mantra two years ago, when 80 percent of its production was aimed at the Spanish and Portuguese markets -- both mature markets for seafood consumption with little room for improvement.

Now, Scanfisk is close to reaching its objective of selling 80 percent of its production outside the Iberian Peninsula.

“We are established in Switzerland, Germany, now we are entering the UK and China and we are working to build our market in Brazil, that’s out next big objective,” Alonso said.

Risky business paying off

The company's strategy shift was a big bet, it completely revamped its identity from being a traditional seafood processor to adapting its philosophy for a new era.

“In Spain, Mercadona started introducing MAP packaging and it was a boom, everyone wanted it, everyone had it, but there was a moment where people switched back to traditional fishmongers, and that’s when we had to decide what we wanted to be,” Alonso said.

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The decision was to invest in value-added production, in communication, in machinery and in plant capacity -- in short to stop being a normal seafood processor.

Two years ago, the company invested millions in the improvement of its processing plant to increase its capacity by 500 percent. To help achieve it growth targets, it created a department of international development, a first for the company.

“We have walked away from businesses that don’t have anything to offer to international markets or to today’s lifestyle," Alonso said. "We have bet all we have on this new concept."

Another important investment for the group was in web design. The site is in Spanish, English and now Portuguese, in anticipation for it entrance into Brazil.

Innovation takes center stage

Scanfisk is updating its product offering every three months, either by changing vegetables in the ready-to-eat dishes, or by using different species.

It also has plans to introduce more fibre to its dishes, after having created a whole range of fish protein, vegetable vitamins and carbohydrates.

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“We have to be able to give the public what it needs, healthy food, easy to prepare and at affordable prices," Alonso said.

Scanfisk offers two different options under its Mr. Fisk brand. One, called the “I want to cook today" line, is fish portions in MAP packaging, and skin packaging.

Within this category, the company is launching a completely new oven concept under the Mr. Fisk brand, in which the consumer only has to remove the label, and put the tray, with the film in the oven, avoiding smells and handling the fish.

This product was only available in Switzerland, but recently launched in Spain, as well.

The second, “I don’t want to cook today," is a mix of fish fillets and portions presented in MAP packs and cut to fit "today's way of cooking," Alonso said. In this category, the company offers a range of recipes.

Spend money to make money

The huge investment in marketing, branding, infrastructure, new technologies, and staff to support its strategy is expected to pay off in the mid-term, Alonso said.

“Of course all this costs a lot of money, but we have incredible feedback from everyone who tries our product, we now are in all international events, we have very ambitious plans abroad and the only thing that stops people from buying the product is that it’s not everywhere; that’s why we are betting on online retailers,” Alonso said.

Currently, the company sells 90 percent of its production under the Mr. Fisk brand, and only 10 percent under private label, something that’s inevitable if you want to be in certain retailers, he noted.

Turnover in 2016 was €52 million ($56.8 million). The expectations are to grow 20 percent a year, Alonso said.

“We have multiplied our sales, but we took a step back when we decided to end certain markets that were not taking us to the global scale, and also we need to make a return on the investment,” he said.

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