According to ANBA, the Brazil-Arab News Agency, in 2007, Netuno Group, the main Brazilian exporter of seafood – headquartered in Recife, Pernambuco, decided to invest heavily in winning clients in the United Arab Emirates. They hired an exclusive trader to identify potential clients in the emirate, participated in fairs in the region and are now tallying the good results of the business they managed to do in the Middle East.
"Two years ago we started prospecting the market in Dubai. It was very hard work, as we had to overcome the lack of knowledge the market had of our brand, the seven-hour time difference and the resting day on Friday. We often lost five days in our negotiations, as when we answered an e-mail on Thursday morning, we only got an answer on Sunday. So that the negotiation would not cool down with an answer only on Monday, I would often answer the e-mails on Sunday itself," recalled Raquel Cavalcanti, the Netuno trader for the Arab market.
According to her, great effort and persistence was necessary to win the confidence of importers. "We sent several samples before we reached an agreement, and one of the partners travelled to Dubai to visit clients until, almost one year after the first contact, we managed to receive the first purchase order," she explained. In 2008 the company exported 32 tonnes of lobster to the United Arab Emirates and is already starting studies about new markets in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
"Netuno is commercially a very aggressive company. We are always trying to take the lead in the search for aggressive markets. The idea is to maintain continued consolidation of our brand, adding value to our products in markets that we have already worked. Especially in Dubai, where we want to maintain and even expand the good results reached last year," she said. "We also plan to work the market in India, in the Middle East and in Japan this year," she added.
Dubai was not the first company contact with the region. In 2001, they had exported two containers of shrimp and lobster to Lebanon. The sale took place through a company in Canada that operated as a middleman. In early 2003, a group of Spaniards sought the Netuno offices and intermediated the sale of a new load of lobster to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the Emirates. The business was little for Netuno standards, less than 20 tonnes of crustaceans, but it signalled the opportunity to explore new seas.
According to the trader, Netuno followed the opposite route from most exporters, which initially consolidate their brands on the domestic market before expanding sales to the foreign market. Still with a very simple structure, the company made small exports. In the beginning of the 1990s the organisation started betting more on foreign sales and sought financing, which was essential for making the business more professional.
In 1994, four years after shipping the first container to the United States, the company entered the list of ten main exporters of fishery products in Brazil.
In 1999, the company started operations with a trade office in Miami, in the United States. This base answers to the trade in North America. To other markets, like Europe and the Middle East, operations are cantered on the head office, in Recife. The exporter has a structured and aligned team to work from the first contact to the billion of international clients. It also counts on a commercial base in Qingdao, in China.
Today, Netuno has consolidated markets in the Americas, Europe and the Middle East. "Six years ago we became the main exporter of sea food in Brazil," celebrates Cavalcanti.
Among the strategies to find new clients is participation in fairs like Boston Seafood, in the United States, and Brussels Seafood, in Belgium. "Last year, as we had started good work with the market in Dubai and there was a perspective to increase our sales to the Emirates, in the month of October, I made use of the opportunity to visit clients, as well as to participate in the Dubai Seafood, which was at its second edition. Despite being a small fair, it is greatly focussed on our business," he pointed out.