In order to diversify its product offering, Kuiseb Trading, a subsidiary of Kuiseb Fishing Enterprises recently launched a range of soup products that are sold in local supermarkets.
These soup products which come in varieties such as horse mackerel, vegetable, beef, chili and mushroom, have been on the market since 2011 and have become one of the flagship brands of Kuiseb Fishing Enterprises. It is sold by retailers in Windhoek and Walvis Bay as well as at the company's own fish shops in both towns.
In an interview with The Economist in Walvis Bay recently, Gerhardt Schnaitmann, general manager of Kuiseb Fishing Enterprises said sales have been lagging production and were relatively slow but has picked up this year adding that there is interest for the product for hampers and that it has huge potential.
"It's increasing at this point in time. We started running shifts to produce the soup because it is labour intensive. From when you start to when you finish, you only have a certain percentage left after you have dried the fish, but first you have to gut it then you have to dry it then you marinate it. So basically, each process requires work," he said.
He said the company also packs other soups which it subsidises partially from their own funds until they can break even on the quantity of sales. At this point the soup lines haven not reached break-even.
Schnaitmann said one of their biggest concerns is the harbour expansion programme because they do not know what impact it is going to have on the aqua park. KFE Marine Farming is the company's black muscle operation in the aqua park. "if the expansion results in the aqua park becoming polluted, they will be forced have to sell their investments because then they have to go to open sea which means bigger vessels, bigger risks, and higher maintenance."
"It can be done but it is going to be very costly, and then we are left with the problem that all the fish and shellfish are in the sea and not in the catchment areas. We have products and we have interested parties but because the industry is not EU accredited, we can not send them out to Europe and the only other option is the Eastern markets, which are quite different from the European markets," he said.
"We don't have the protection. We don't have [harmonised] African standards and this means that everybody just brings in what they want. The replacement for fish are imported chicken and imported fish and the same applies for shellfish," he added.
He stated that in order to survive in the industry, companies should be price competitive for foreign countries, especially if one looks at the total international market for shellfish which is about 250,000 metric tons. This is basically the same as the horse mackerel quota in Namibia.
As a fishing right holder, Kuiseb Fishing Enterprises (being a subsidiary of Naras Investment is a fully-owned Namibian company and a shareholder of Naras Investment Business Centre. KFE is the sole owner of Kuiseb Food Processors and of Kuiseb Fish Traders, a wholesale and retail trader. It is also the sole owner of KFE Marine Farming, a sea- and shore-based salt water fish farming operation as well as KFE Aqua Farming, a fresh water (inland) fish farming operation.
"We have Kuiseb Food Processors, Kuiseb Traders, our trading company, and then we have Kuiseb KFE Aqua Farming. They have not been participating at this stage because it is an on-land processing fish farm and we don't get land so this is an issue we can not proceed with. We are sitting with a couple of things but we cannot forge forward now because there is no access to sea land," he added.