The Oceana Group: Fresh profits

For almost 100 years the Oceana Group has delivered the finest harvest from our oceans. Yet today’s business environment demands so much more than fishing and packaging and the group has become a leader in scientific research and sustainability with its ethical approach.

Incorporated in 1918, Oceana Group is listed both on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the Namibian Stock Exchange; its principal shareholders are Tiger Brands Limited, Brimstone Investment Corporation Limited and the Khula Trust – which incorporates Oceana’s commitment to black employee share trust.

Today the group employs 1,700 workers and 512 season workers and exports its produce around the world. Oceana Group is involved in the catching, processing and procurement of marine species including pilchard, sardine, anchovy, redeye herring, lobster, horse mackerel, squid, tuna, hake and other deep-sea species. Products are sold through international and local marketing channels nd the group also provides extensive cold storage and fruit handling facilities.

[dt_quote type=”pullquote” layout=”left” font_size=”normal” animation=”none” size=”1″]The group employs 1,700 workers and 512 season workers and exports its produce around the world.[/dt_quote]

In total the group comprises of new fewer than 23 operating subsidiaries including brand names familiar around the globe. Key divisions include: Oceana Brands, Oceana Lobster, Squid & French Fries, Blue Continent Products, Blue Atlantic Trading, Glenryck Foods and Commercial Cold Storage.Oceana1

Oceana Brands has a focus on fishing (both locally and internationally) for inshore pelagic species and in the production, marketing and distribution of branded canned fish products via the wholesale and retail trade in Southern Africa.

Canned pilchards are marketed under the instantly-recognisable Lucky Star that commands a major share of the Southern African market, while the Lucky Pet brand markets pet food, in particular cat food, for the South African market.

Oceana Brands also owns and manages a versatile fleet (including joint ventures) of six steel, ten wooden and two fibreglass vessels which operate from four ports. Its St Helena Bay cannery sources fish from the Oceana fleet, joint venture partners and contract vessels.

Operating in a competitive global environment means that the Oceana Group has to be wise to acquisition opportunities. In April 2004 the group acquired Glenryck Foods in the UK given it greater global reach as Glenryck not only supplies canned pilchards to Europe but also imports and distributes product from sources as diverse as Peru, Thailand, Maldives, Colombia, Spain, Philippines, Indonesia, Chile, Portugal and Morocco.

Oceana Lobster, Squid & French Fries has made its name over 90 years as a highly regarded producer and exporter of prime quality South African Rock Lobster and Squid products.

The company operates factories on both the West and East Coast of South Africa, from Lamberts Bay to Port Elizabeth from which it produces and exports quality live and frozen products. Its subsidiary business Lamberts Bay Foods also manufactures and markets potato goods.

The business operates a fleet of 11 vessels and 2 HACCP accredited processing plants which produce live, whole frozen, nitrogen frozen and Lobster tails that are shipped to the Far East, Europe and the USA.

Oceana Squid is responsible for five freezer vessels that catch and sea-freeze Loligo Reynaudi squid. Each vessel is fitted with temperature analysis equipment and sonar plotters and the squid are immediately blast-frozen at sea before they are transported to a processing factory in Port Elizabeth prior to export to Europe and Japan.

Blue Continent Products (Pty) Ltd has its headquarters in Cape Town, widely regarded as the hub for South African’s fishing industries. BCP harvests, processes and distributes Horse Mackerel making full use of its award-winning R77 million trawler mfv “Desert Diamond.”

Desert Diamond has been the platform from which Oceana launched its South Africanisation programme to transfer expertise from the foreign crew to South African citizens. The programme began with 25 trainees who were all matriculants from previously disadvantaged communities and were mainly unemployed. MFV Desert Diamond was accredited by the South African Maritime Safety Agency (SAMSA) for on board accelerated training programmes for deck officers.

Oceana2In Namibia the company operates as Erongo Marine Enterprises (Pty) Ltd, and is located in Walvis Bay from where it harvests, processes and distributes over 80,000 tons of Horse Mackerel and fishmeal each year which is then sold around the continent. BCP also processes and packages fresh hake products for the international market.

In 2001 BPC entered a joint venture with Snoek Wholesalers (Pty) Ltd to better serve the domestic market. The result was Blue Atlantic Trading, which quickly established itself as a success, to the extent that in 2005 it was decided that Blue Atlantic should be transformed into a company, with each parent company owning 50 per cent.

Today Blue Atlantic Trading is established as a supplier of seafood to the wholesale trade in South Africa and across Southern Africa. The company buys in bulk from local fishing companies and operates a unique niche by importing specialty lines unavailable in Southern African waters.

With eight state-of-the-art facilities scattered around South Africa and Namibia, Commercial Cold Storage has over the last 35 years become the industry leader in Southern Africa in terms of volumes handled, size of customer base, competitive rates and quality of service.

The business has become hugely successful and an ongoing expansion programme includes growing the size of each facility and regular upgrades to the latest innovations in storage.

Oceana Fish

Commercial Cold Storage provides quayside off-loading to pre-cooling of fresh fruit and computerised stock control. European Union approved, Commercial Cold Storage the company works closely with both importers and exporters of major perishable commodities including meat, poultry, vegetables, fruit, dairy products and fish.

Across all divisions of Oceana Group what really strikes a chord is the focus on sustainability. The group is acutely aware of the importance of the sustainability of the fish species that it harvests.

Its commitment to sustainable resource management led to Oceana becoming a founder member of the Responsible Fisheries Alliance in 2009. The Alliance acknowledges the importance of the long-term benefit of responsible fishing; the ecosystem approach to fishery management; the transparency of operations; and the traceability of products.

With seafood products continuing to grow in popularity across the continent it came as no surprise that Oceana Group reported an increase of 21 per cent in its headline earnings for the six months ended 31st March 2012.

According to OGL Chairman, Mustaq Brey, the positive results were due to improved performance by each of the group’s three operating segments – Inshore Fishing, Midwater and Deep-sea Fishing and Cold Storage.

In his review of operations, Oceana CEO, Francois Kuttel, stated that, “Within inshore fishing, canned fish sales volumes on the domestic market increased meaningfully, partially as a result of a more robust supply with imported product continuing to supplement local supplies. Canned fish sales in the United Kingdom continued to be impacted by pricing pressure.”

No wonder Brev concluded on a positive note: “The group is well positioned to take advantage of opportunities for organic and acquisitive growth. Furthermore, earnings for the full year are expected to exceed those of last year.”