GLOBAL - Carlos Luna, Director of Angulas Aguinage, explains how innovation is possible, even in small companies during his plenary address at Aquaculture Europe 2014 in San Sebastian, Spain, writes Lucy Towers, TheFishSite Editor.
Angulas Aguinage is a medium sized Spanish company which produces a range of popular seafood products.
Mr Luna explained that the success of the company has been down to its innovation and successful marketing.
The company first began in the production of elver eel products. However, as the eel populations dropped in the 1990's and prices soared the company was left in a difficult situation.
Instead of throwing in the towel, Mr Luna explained that the company went to Japan to learn about its use of surimi to produce imitation seafood products. Following this training, the company invested in a new factory where it could produce its own range of eel imitation products using surimi.
This product, branded La Gula del Norte has allowed the company to completely stop eel fishing.
Although this product is now well know and popular across Spain, it took a while to take off when it first entered the market.
"It is not enough to have a good product," said Mr Luna. "You must also work hard at marketing and communicating your product to the consumer."
The La Gula del Norte product had a very successful advertising campaign which used famous footballers to promote the product. Although this would have been initially expensive, it has proved successful.
Mr Luna also suggested having consumer tastings, lots of promoting and innovative packaging.
The La Gula del Norte Doy pack style packaging has also helped the product to become successful. The Doy pack is thermo-sealable, eco-friendly, user friendly, easy to store and of a top quality.
As well as designing the packaging around the consumers needs, the product itself also needs to be tailored.
Consumers of today lead busy lifestyles and therefore have no time to spend ages shopping or cooking. Therefore, products need to be healthy, have a long shelf life and be easy and quick to cook.
"Consumers still want fish but in a convenient way," explained Mr Luna.
Despite the successes, Mr Luna did acknowledge that innovation has its risks. Some of the company's past ideas have not worked, such as krill, imitation caviar and turbot farming.
Sometimes you do win and sometimes you lose, but it is important to learn from mistakes.