The trials and tribulations of Etosha Fishing

The past decade has not been plain sailing for Etosha Fishing, due to dwindling pilchard stocks. Pilchard production has traditionally been the mainstay of this pelagic fishing company’s business.

A moratorium has been placed by the Namibian Government in 2017 on the harvesting of pilchard. The moratorium remains in place with no clear indication yet if the moratorium would be lifted and pelagic fishing for pilchard to resume.
Etosha Fishing some years ago introduced the canning of horse mackerel, in order to augment the business of pilchard canning. Canned under the brand “EFUTA”, it soon became a much-loved and locally harvested product to the consumer.
According to the managing director of Etosha Fishing, Nezette Beukes, commercial pressure is increasing on EFUTA, as it becomes increasingly difficult to source affordable raw fish to produce its the canned horse mackerel.
Etosha Fishing does not have a fishing right, and therefore has to buy raw fish for canning either by importing or purchasing horse mackerel from local right holders. The prices demanded by the local right holders makes the operations unsustainable, explains Beukes.  In order to avoid closure, Etosha Fishing had to retrench some of its permanent employees and had to sell its three purse seiner fishing vessels used in the harvesting of pilchard.
In the true spirit of Namibian entrepreneurship, there is no space for failure. Beukes is adamant the company will pull out all the stops to push through these difficult times. “We cannot allow these challenges to put our business on hold. We remain committed to aggressively tackle our country’s development plans, in support of value addition, job creation and poverty reduction. Also, to do our part to ensure sustained economic growth at home. We have to devise various plans and business strategies to ensure that our cannery remains operational and hope that the government could assist us in this regard. If we are forced to close our cannery, it would not only spell the end of Namibia’s pilchard industry but the loss of more than 600 jobs”, explains Beukes.

Committed to job creation through value addition:
Beukes says Namibia’s fishing sector is the third-largest contributor to Namibia’s Gross Domestic Product. Government always reiterates the importance of increased job creation in this sector, and the need for higher-income generation from raw materials through value addition. In this regard, Etosha Fishing has been leading by example.
As early as 2013 Etosha Fishing responded to the call to pioneer value addition in the horse mackerel sector.
This led to the creation of EFUTA canned horse mackerel.
As a low-cost, high-protein food source, horse mackerel plays a critical role in food security both locally and regionally. By canning locally caught horse mackerel, Etosha Fishing hopes to achieve a more sustainable fisheries operation with secure, long-term employment for more Namibians.
However, without access to raw material, at an affordable price, it becomes difficult to maintain production at sustain-able levels.
Further explains Beukes: “One has to understand that value addition in the horse mackerel sector alone is not enough to secure the profit-ability of our cannery. As a low-end product, we must keep the price as low as possible to ensure afford-ability, making effective marketing and expansion into foreign markets extremely difficult. The profit-ability of the product only really becomes viable with high volume sales.”
A true asset in the fishing sector: Over the years Etosha Fishing has entrenched its position as a world-class cannery and true asset to the Namibian fishing sec-tor, and the local manufacturing and food industry. We manufacture our pro-ducts to the highest quality standards based on the principle of ISO9001, a globally recognised standard to demonstrate the ability to consistently produce products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements.
Etosha Fishing also commits to HACCP, to control food safety risks. The Company is certified by the Namibian Standards Institution (NSI), through an inspection and audit program. The NSI and the South African National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) for compliance with canned food manufacturing regulations inspect all products we produce.
With the focus on quality, it is no sur-prise that the company won its first award in 2015. Since 2017, Etosha won three of the five large enterprise categories at the annual National Quality A-wards, hosted by the Namibian Standards Institution (NSI) namely Company of the Year, Exporter of the Year and Product of the Year.

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