Antonio Suárez
View from the Top

Innovation and Sustainability for Mexico’s Fishing Future

Thu, 02/09/2017 - 14:02

Q: What are Grupomar’s key differentiators?
A: Since the company was founded, Grupomar has been known for being the most innovative company in the Mexican fishing segment. We were the first company to introduce easy-open tins, the first to commercialize tuna salad and the first to offer canned octopus, squid and salmon. We also offer tinned sardines. Grupomar manages approximately 60,000 tons of tuna per year and we can pack around 2 million cans of tuna on a daily basis.
Q: Grupomar has a wide range of businesses. How do its business units complement each other?
A: We are a very integrated company, from port agencies, ship repair workshops to helicopter repair workshops. All unloading activities are performed by another Grupomar unit. We also have a plant where we manufacture our cans and an additional plant for processing and canning all our products. The group also engages in direct distribution to big retailers and small shops. We make and sell fish flour from the pieces of fish that are not used elsewhere. Grupomar is a completely integrated business.
This integration ensures the company’s viability. In the primary sector, there are so many variables that could impact the performance of a company. You have good and bad years. However, with an integrated business model, you are less vulnerable to nature’s vicissitudes. Our plan is to go the same way with sardines. We already have the ships and the plants. We now have to innovate in the sardine segment.  
Q: How has the Mexican diet adapted to include Grupomar’s products?
A: When we started operating, Mexico did not consume much tuna, so all our efforts were focused on the US market. At that time, Mexico consumed about 10,000 tons of tuna per year, while today the country consumes between 160,000 and 170,000 tons. To foster the sector’s growth, the government launched an advertising campaign to further promote the consumption of canned tuna. These efforts, combined with our product innovation, changed Mexican consumption patterns.
Q: What is Grupomar’s participation in international markets?
A: We export to the US, but due to the restrictions created by lobbyists, we only sell our products in small chains that sell Mexican products. Nevertheless, we have managed to position ourselves in other markets, such as Central America and Spain, and we are opening new markets in the Middle East and Turkey. We were the first fishing company to obtain the Halal certification. In addition, we also import tuna from Asian countries, such as China and Thailand. We prepare frozen tuna slices that we later sell to restaurants, both in Mexico and Spain.
Q: How does Grupomar contribute to preservation of natural resources in the fishing sector?
A: The fact that the most sustainable tuna fishing happens where there are dolphins is not an excuse to also capture them. To avoid this, we have a number of devices, including the Medina Panel, which allow dolphins to jump over the net. In the case of Grupomar, we have a statistical zero when it comes to the number of dolphins killed due to our fishing activities. We even have divers who help the dolphins escape each time they get caught in one of our nets.
When it comes to the sustainability of tuna, we make sure to fish only adult tunas. In this way, we guarantee the continuity and reproduction of the species.
The Mexican fleet follows governmental and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (CIAT) guidelines. We have been part of the Pacific Alliance for Sustainable Tuna for the past three years; this alliance obtained the MSC Certification, which is the most prestigious certification for sustainable fishing. In addition, the Mexican tuna fleet has been granted the FAO’s Margarita Lizárraga Medal Award.

Grupomar is a leader in Mexican fishing activities, port services, industrialization and commercialization of mass consumption food. Grupomar is known for innovating in the canned food sector, with different presentations of canned fish products