Nativ Pescados, which owns a fish farm and a cold storage warehouse in the municipality of Sorriso, state of Mato Grosso, is negotiating with four countries in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, according to Brazil-Arab News Agency (ANBA).
"Negotiations are progressing well. We have already contacted important distributors and supermarket chains. We have shipped samples (of raw fish and frozen fillets) in early June and developed packaging in Arabic and in English,” stated Stefano Magli, director of the company's international department.
According to Mr Magli, along with the samples, Arab importers received an export kit – including a catalogue, information regarding each product and a price list. "Initially, we will focus our efforts in those four countries, but we are aware that the entire region has much potential. What is more, the countries have low financial risk, high per capita incomes and lots of foreigners, the latter of which holds true especially of the Emirates," he said.
According to Mr Magli, Nativ works in two sectors: food services, with sales to restaurants, hotels, airlines etc; and sales to supermarkets, focusing on end consumers and featuring more elaborate packaging.
"If everything turns out as planned, then we will soon be visiting our potential Arab clients, and we also want to promote a tasting event for fishery products manufactured by Nativ, in Dubai, next September," he explained.
The company is also negotiating with importers from Europe and the United States. "Our goal is to export 30 per cent of our production within 18 months," said Mr Magli. "We must work in order to develop the habit of consuming fish reared in freshwater. Brazil has potential to become a high-level, regular exporter in the aquaculture sector," he said.
Founded in 2006, Nativ, produced its first batch of fisheries in July 2008, shortly after the conclusion of the building of its cold storage warehouse and fish farm. The municipality was strategically chosen for logistic reasons. The region is part of the Amazon Basin and its main river is Teles Pires, which, alongside the Cristalino and Jurema river, comprise the Tapajós river, one of the most important tributaries of the Amazonas river.
According to Mr Magli, another determining factor in the choice of the city was the fact that Sorriso is presently the leading producer of soy in Brazil, aside from being among the largest producers of other grain that are staples in the production of feed, a primordial item in the rearing of fish. The quality and abundance of water, the characteristics of the soil, the infrastructure, (energy, telephony, roads etc) and the weather were also key factors in the choice of location.
Currently, the group has a farm with 138 fish tanks and a warehouse, located 60 kilometres away from the farm, for processing fisheries. The group also has distributing operations and an office, in the city of São Paulo, that encompasses the commercial, financial and judicial areas. The company has 220 employees and an average output of 10 tonnes a day.
"The company is young and uses advanced technology in aquaculture and freshwater fishery processing. The employees are specialized, including biologists and veterinarians. Brazil is still at an early stage in this activity. Our cold storage warehouse is a model for the sector," Mr Magli explained.
He added that the focus of the company is on quality and development of native fish species of the Amazon region. Currently, two lines are produced: raw and stuffed. Nativ works with four varieties of fish: surubim catfish, Brazilian tiger fish, tambaqui and tilapia.
"These are high value-added, soft-flavoured, boneless fish with good consistency, high nutritional value (very low rates of fat), and they are also easy to prepare," said the director.
Despite being in the market for less than one year, Nativ already has sales channels in 14 states. The largest markets are in the states of Mato Grosso, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Investment and technology
The first phase of a project by the company, including the implementation of a rural unit, a Centre for Breeding and Growing, and the warehouse, received investment of 44 million Brazilian reals (BRR; US$22.6 million), comprising BRR 32 million ($16.4 million) from direct funding and BRR 12 million ($6.1 million) from indirect funding. By the end of 2012, when the second phase should be concluded, another BRR 70 million ($36 million) are expected to be invested.
The estimated revenue during the first year is BRR 50 million ($25.7 million). Concerned about ensuring the origin of its products, Nativ will be in charge of 100 per cent of fingerling production, and will grow the fish to be harvested along with partners.
"In a project that aims to be a reference to any fishery producer in Brazil, our warehouse is already on par with the best in the world, featuring the latest in equipment for the segment," said the director.
Another factor that ensures better quality to the fish is traceability, which uses a software specifically designed for the segment to monitor the fish from the time that it is spawned, what tank it grew in, what it ate, at what age it was harvested, what products it generated, where it was stored, and whom it was sold to., according to ANBA.