Although Van Meines has been active in the retail sector for only five years, this market now accounts for 50% of its annual turnover. “In 2015, we set up a new processing plant in Zoetermeer for the portioning, packaging and storage of fish for the retail sector,” says CEO Mick van Meines, who grew up in the industry and took over from his father, who founded the family business. “Our main activity is the supply of portioned, cooked fish products made according to traditional recipes and artisan principles. We work on a large scale but still manage to honour the quality of the ingredients with a hands-on approach.”
Van Meines has its headquarters in the Food Center Amsterdam. This is where its kitchens prepare and cook a broad range of fish delicacies. Van Meines offers a huge variety of fish favourites.
“We have vast experience in preparing and supplying ready-prepared fish products to institutional kitchens in hospitals and schools, as well as the horeca market and food service clients,” says Mr. van Meines. “Having been active in the market for so long, we are well known in this sector.”
With such a well-developed product range and long-standing experience, it is somewhat surprising that Van Meines did not target the retail sector sooner. “Retail is a new market for us and one for which we have had to learn a new skill set,” says Mr. van Meines. “Demand for customized and convenience products is growing in both the food service and retail sectors, and we have decided the time is right to profit from the overlap in serving both.”
Quality is the priority for both Van Meines and its customers. The company has always bought its fish from MSC- and ASC-certified suppliers. “Transparency in the chain is very important, while sustainability is key to the survival of our industry as a whole,” insists Mr. van Meines. “We visit fish farmers and fishermen to see where our fish comes from, and we feel a responsibility to ensure that our part of the supply chain operates as sustainably as possible.”
Respect for the raw material means that Van Meines refuses to compromise on its artisan approach in order to compete on price. New niche markets such as gluten-free and kosher products are also providing new opportunities.
“We will be taking a number of new products to this year’s Anuga trade fair for the first time in our history, in response to interest from foreign clients,” says Mr. van Meines. “At present, sales to a handful of clients in Belgium and the UK account for 5% of sales but there are more knocking on our door, particularly from Germany and Italy. We want to take advantage of this interest to grow our business still further.”
Having successfully established a second site, investment in new premises is no longer such a daunting prospect for the family business. “We want to diversify and become more international,” says Mr. van Meines. “The opportunities are there, but we will have to invest in scaling up production and perhaps opening a third site.” It seems that the Dutch are not finished with empire building after all.