By Business Reporter
ETOSHA Fishing last week expanded its product portfolio, adding four new products under its own home-grown and 100 percent Namibian “EFUTA” brand.
The new brands include canned EFUTA Maasbanker in curry sauce, canned EFUTA Maasbanker mince in tomato sauce as well as a new 20kg whole frozen horse mackerel box product.
In addition, the company for the first time will be able to sell canned imported pilchards under its new EFUTA Pilchard brand.
Well-known as the Namibian home of the revered Lucky Star brand, Etosha Fishing is already canning imported pilchards for Lucky Star and Glenryck South Africa.
“The project was driven by Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resource, Bernard Esau’s vision to put Namibia’s most abundant fish resource in a can, offering the nation an affordable, nutritious meal from the sea delivered in robust packaging that has a long shelf life. But to can horse mackerel and think that your product will take a major share of the market is nothing short of ambitious. We had to ensure that we introduce a quality product” explained Etosha Fishing Managing Director, Pieter Greeff.
He highlighted that EFUTA Maasbanker was the first Namibian canned product to receive the Namibian Standards Institution’s (NSI) standard mark of conformity product endorsement. It is also Halaal certified and carries the Team Namibia product mark.
“Exceptionally low in cost, high in protein and especially rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, even today EFUTA Maasbanker is the most affordable, nutritious and best quality meal money can buy,” Greeff added.
In 2013 Etosha Fishing became the first fishing company to can locally caught horse mackerel under its then newly established EFUTA Maasbanker brand. Since the product’s introduction to the local retail market in 2014 sales have increased nearly five-fold with a total of 4.7 million cans sold in 2016.
EFUTA Maasbanker was originally born out of a joint venture agreement between Etosha Fishing and Erongo Marine Enterprises in November 2013, which resulted in the initial canning of 200 metric tonnes of locally caught horse mackerel. The joint venture produced a total of 13,000 trays, or just more than 150,000 cans.
The new value addition venture was in direct response to an on-going appeal by the Namibian Fisheries Ministry for employment creation and value addition in the horse mackerel sector, which is in line with the government’s NDP5 and Vision 2030 policy framework. The venture also allowed for a more sustainable fisheries operation with secure, long term employment for more Namibians.
Since Efuta Maasbanker’s introduction, Etosha Fishing has responded to market research and feedback to optimise sales. The product was initially launched in three flavours, namely tomato sauce, chilli and salt water – the latter being discontinued in recent years due to poor sales. In 2015 the smaller 155g jitney can was introduced.
“As you well know, the past years have not been plain sailing in the pelagic fishing industry due to a dwindling pilchard resource, which has been the mainstay of Etosha Fishing’s business. However, we did not allow these challenges to put our business on hold. We remained committed to aggressively tackle our country’s development plans in support of value addition, job creation and poverty reduction to ensure sustained economic growth at home,” Etosha Fishing Board Chairperson, Johnny Nekwaya affirmed.
Against the backdrop of a dwindling pelagic resource in recent years and the subsequent moratorium placed on pilchard catches, Etosha Fishing has imported in excess of 50,000 metric tons of frozen pilchards for processing on local soil since 2010 in order to sustain business. The company is also in final negotiations to secure contracts to continue canning pilchards for Lucky Star and Glenryck South Africa until the end of 2019.
“We cannot allow Namibia’s only remaining cannery to close its doors. We had to devise various plans and business strategies to ensure that our cannery remains operational, even if it meant we only operate at a break-even level. If we had to close down our cannery as a result of the moratorium on pilchard catches, it would spell the end of Namibia’s pilchard industry. As you know Etosha Fishing’s cannery is the only remaining cannery in Namibia. Restarting the factory once our pilchard resource has recovered would be too costly,” Greeff noted.
He added that the company is extremely proud of the fact that despite the many challenges, it has managed to not only diversify its EFUTA Maasbanker product range, but also to add its own pilchard product to the EFUTA brand.
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