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You might not have heard of Nettuno Fisheries but you must have heard of Nectar Group, an importation and distribution company that delivers not only quality goods to the catering and retail industries, but also takes on innovative projects and stepping stones to improve the islands’ choice and selection of consumer products. Nettuno Fisheries was one of those sectors that Nectar group knew they could offer their stamp of quality approval in.
Back in 2016, Nectar Group was met with an opportunity for acquisition; with its then owner looking to retire and pass on the business to new yet experienced hands. Nectar Group was the perfect solution in making sure that Nettuno Fisheries would carry on its success and grow exponentially in the retail and catering markets.
“The food service industry was growing, acquiring Nettuno Fisheries was a strategic choice for Nectar Group, which we are glad to say was the right choice for our business. Since importing fish is so important to the horeca industry, we thought that we would succeed in sourcing quality produce, combining it with our quality services of importation, storage, distribution and customer after-sales - and luckily we did,” commented Mario Abela, COO, Nettuno Fisheries.
The main pillars of the food industry in Malta are based on importation, due to the limitations in size and resources, our thriving sector of travel and hospitality depends on the outsourcing of produce through importation.
Mario Abela, COO, Nectar Limited
“Supporting local is still very important and at Nettuno Fisheries, we make sure to source locally whenever possible, seasonally and quota-wise. If we’re looking at the last months of summer into early winter, when lampuki are in season, we will make sure to support local fishermen and distribute their produce proudly.”
With the Food Service Division being one of the most prominent sectors of Nettuno Fisheries, hailing in produce from overseas is a must to meet the demand of the industry. The company’s move from Marsa to Ta’ Qali allowed for an improved premises to regularise their processes and as a result improve the quality of the produce destined for either the home or the professional kitchen.
The company’s huge investment of freezers, delivery trucks and more simple made the entire processing of the fresh fish produce easier and quicker - ensuring that HACCP processes are adhered to at all times. The Nettuno fisheries processing plant is also in possession of a Veterinary Certification, which is one of the highest standards of recognition in the raw foods processing industry.
“Daily and weekly upkeep of the facilities is what makes sure we are always giving the population of Malta and all the tourists visiting our islands the best of the best. Our standards are tied together with our reputation and it is always our goal to ensure that the Nectar name as a whole is synonymous with reassurance and quality.”
Their new space and existing focus on quality gave the Nettuno Fisheries team a challenge to meet; where supply would meet demand with quality as a main goal. Mario Abela comments;
“While a good portion of our fish comes from local waters, fresh fish is also flown in by aircraft from Senegal and Oman - ensuring that freshness is always guaranteed. We also choose the best fish from the best locations; opting for Norway as our supplier of salmon, for example.
“Products are sourced according to the markets’ needs with frozen fish products coming in from other countries across the globe depending on who does what best - that’s the Nettuno Fisheries way!”
But as we all know, sometimes things do not plan out as we intended it. The COVID-19 Pandemic saw Nettuno Fisheries hectic grind of 2018 come to a near stop due to the fact that the restaurant industry was pretty much closed down on local shores.
“While streamlining and upgrading our processes in 2017-2018 was a great benefit to business in that short stretch, our plan had to change in 2019 with a whole new revision. But the Nectar culture is versatile; we had 30-40 staff members working in Nectar’s Food Service sector; and we needed to find alternative jobs for them as retention of staff was high on our list.
“We set to work with the Marketing Team to develop new packaging ideas to improve the brand awareness and exposure in the retail market. With home cooking becoming more and more popular, and visits to the supermarket preferably avoided, Nettuno Fisheries produce was a good idea through the eyes of the consumer. We also made sure to keep our relationship with our catering customers strong and steady; ensuring that we support their needs and restrictions in such a crushing time for business.”
But the only way to look at COVID-19 in a positive way is to think of the lessons learned and the improved practices adopted. Nettuno Fisheries retained most of its catering client base due to their humane and respectful approach to the unforeseen circumstances of the industry; and today, with the impending supply issues, price increases and shipping issues, the lessons of COVID-19 are coming back, giving priority to a focus on finding the right solutions for each sector individually and holistically.
“Our goals for the year are simple, we want to constantly evolve our range of products and brands, be able to store more stock to ensure our catering and retail clients are never missing their key produce and ensure that our fish products, fresh and frozen are of the highest quality at all times. Our ultimate goal is to keep steady on the path of expertise in the industry so as to provide our market with quality, affordability and reliability.”
Click here to see Horeca Issue 9 online