In 1991 I returned to Ecuador, and decided to start in the downstream post harvest shrimp industry.
I went to work for Sopesca. Backed by Filanbanco and under a different name, for many years it was the biggest exporter of shrimp from Ecuador.
US markets though became awkward to access and the factory was idle.
Co-packing became an option explored for the “relatively” new and growing headson export to France. Prior to that it was a green tails to US industry.
My brief was business development and liaison with markets.
We copacked for a French organisation and one day had a visit from JB, the president of ENACA looking for space to process while their factory was rebuilt.
JB was a Scottish flying accountant working for David Clarke. Lord Hanson’s and White’s US operation.
Purchased from Unilever it included Marine Harvest Salmon and National Protein (ENACA group) in shrimp.
As is investments, IPO’s, spin-offs, divestures were part and parcel of the times. Ground Round restaurants, Tommy Armour golf clubs and a tuna processor in Long Beach went into USI.
Headhunted locally I was initially put into policing systems against a checklist for all farms. I disagreed with the husbandry methods and tvhe SOPs in place – and could not work with the technical director Jose Villalon ( now CSR Nutreco) on production and operations.
The MHI group were putting together an IPO. Charley Woodhouse as President and John Mistretta was CEO. They asked me if I would like to run the processing and packing plant supporting JB in Ecuador.
I jumped at the opportunity.
We hatched a plan to go to value addition for the US market – saving large labour costs ( cheaper to peel in Ecuador the BOH USA), efficiency in logistics costs (export the meat not shell = 15% less volume but higher price…more later), increase in quality control AND food safety.
An easy sell into US and UK.
I was told to produce to maximum efficiency and quality. Standardize operations. Our marketing / sales division in US had to adapt to the value added commodity exports.