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“One of the key factors that differentiates us is our large production capacity”

“One of the key factors that differentiates us is our large production capacity”

In the year of its 18th anniversary, Brasmar simultaneously faced one of the most demanding periods of its history, as well as one of the most promising, which is a result of this prudent and sound path that it has been outlining and which recently led the brand to create new ranges of products to be presented to overseas markets and to have a presence in new countries, such as the United States of America, where it has opened a new branch this year. Nonetheless, the Portuguese market continues to be a strong investment, as Brasmar is the national leading company in the industry of frozen sea products. Therefore, this year is also marked by new investments in Portuguese territory. The 18 years of Brasmar are highlighted in this issue, by an interview with Sérgio Reis, CCO of the Brasmar Group.

Interview with Sérgio Reis, Brasmar CCO

Grande Consumo – 2021 marks the 18th anniversary of Brasmar. On the one hand, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate, as we are talking about a company that is reaching adulthood. On the other hand, like the majority of the companies, it has been through one of the most challenging periods of the last decades, which led to some changes in the business model. Which lessons can be learnt?
Sérgio Reis – It is clear that this year and the previous one were challenging periods for Brasmar. We are talking about a crisis that had a worldwide impact across all business sectors. However, we also have plenty of reasons to celebrate.
Firstly, we opened a new branch in Miami, Florida. The American market was always seen as an opportunity for us, due to its size and investment in the industry of frozen and chilled sea products. Besides this market, we also opened a branch in Italy, where our sales team has grown significantly. The opening of the new offices has proved to be strategic for us, as it allows us to be closer to our clients and to operate on a local and specialised basis in the retail and food service domains, both with a strong potential for growth.
We already are one of the main European players in the seafood industry. Therefore, we are committed to becoming more and more specialised in this area, with an emphasis on products such as codfish, octopus, salmon and seafood.
During this pandemic period, the closure of the HORECA sector obviously had an impact on the sales of traditional distribution for Brasmar, mainly in these product categories. In contrast, there was a considerable growth of our entire portfolio of products in large-scale distribution.
In short, the diversity of our wide range of products, markets and trade channels allow us to mitigate the impact felt during this period.

GC – Are you reaching new markets? Which are the most important ones and which proposals have you been presenting?
SR – The international market is strategic for Brasmar, as the company’s exports account for more than 50% of turnover. We are directly present in six countries, which are Portugal, Spain, Italy, Norway, Brazil and the United States, and our exports currently reach more than 40 countries. Our goal is to grow and consolidate our position in these markets.
Regarding new proposals, in the area of frozen products, we have developed a new line of codfish with the right amount of salt, produced by one of our units, to meet the demand for this product in the international markets, more precisely Italy, Spain and France. This is a product with a growing acceptance and consumption in Europe. In the area of chilled products, we have launched a ready-to-eat fish range, aimed at the retail channel, and we will have new launches in the short term.

GC – Christmas is the quintessential consumption season of codfish in Portugal. What have you been doing to reach new consumers in this category?
SR – We believe that the secret is to consistently deliver a top-quality product. Working with raw materials that present, throughout the year, many types of organoleptic variations, textures, among others, brings increased challenges to the business. Brasmar reinforces, on a daily basis, its commitment towards the quality and flavour of its products, through a careful selection of the raw materials and rigorous production processes.
During the Christmas season, there is a significant increase in codfish and octopus consumption, products that have earned Brasmar the confidence of its clients over the years. We are recognised for their quality and flavour, and we were awarded the “Sabor do Ano” (Flavour of the Year) label in the category of cleaned octopus for the fifth consecutive year and in the category of soaked codfish for the second consecutive year, in Portugal. We work on the basis of this commitment to deliver, daily and systematically, the best products to our clients and consumers.

GC – Which investments have you been doing regarding the company’s activity to optimise production and satisfy consumer demands?
SR – One of the key factors that differentiates us is our large production capacity, combined with state-of-the-art technology in our industrial units and the optimisation of the production processes. As such, we are constantly investing in our different production units.
The Brasmar Group has taken measures amounting to approximately 12 million euros in the last three years in order to continuously increase its production capacity, improve the production processes and extend the offer of products. We have also invested in the renewal of facilities, in the acquisition of equipment and machinery, and in the implementation of new management software in the different units.

GC – A key topic these days is sustainability. What has Brasmar been doing in this respect?
SR – In terms of sustainability, we pursue the most demanding quality parameters and respect the life cycle of our species, following the criteria for sustainable fishing. We have significantly increased the number of species with the MSC – Marine Stewardship Council and the ASC – Aquaculture Stewardship Council certifications, which are independent, international and non-profit organisations that promote fishing sustainability. We started to market 18 MSC/ASC references in 2018 and we now have 45 references.
In the coming years, we will definitely continue to increase our portfolio of MSC and ASC certified products.

GC – What are your expectations for the future?
SR – Brasmar aims to continuously and closely follow market trends and seeks to develop effective solutions according to the consumer profile.
We have R&D teams working continuously to launch new products. Thus, we expect to present innovative proposals that will allow us to widen our offer and extend the range of frozen and chilled products.
We intend to invest in sustainability, because, after all, the foundation of our work is the sea. Regarding the concerns of consumers relating to health, these are reflected in our products identified as healthy choices. Finally, we must highlight the way we have been working on the trend regarding the consumption of top-quality convenience food.
With the acquisition of the Spanish companies La Balinesa, expert in smoked products, and Foncasal, expert in cooked and pasteurised products, we intend to strengthen our portfolio and increase our market share in the area of chilled sea products in several countries, namely Portugal.

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