Dimitra Tzika, Exports Manager of KONVA SA talks about adapting to modern consumer needs and how to lead a traditional, centennial food company to the new era.

Interview: Charitomeni Vonta

One of the biggest fish companies in Greece, KONVA SA, owner of two highly trusted and historical brands in the Greek food market, Trata and Flokos, is more than ready to face today’s challenges, by adapting its portfolio to cover modern consumers’ needs, both in Greece and abroad. What remains the same in the almost centennial story of the brand, is the focus on quality seafood. Ambrosia Magazine meets with Dimitra Tzika, the company’s Exports Manager, who unravels the company’s plans after the last challenging two years.

What is the position of KONVA in the Greek Food industry and its category, and where does it stand -in terms of volume- in exports?
KONVA is a 3rd generation canned fish industry with a long history of over 90 years in trade and production. To this day, we never stop evolving, both in the range of our products and in the way we produce them. The fish processed in our production is mainly wild caught and carefully “traced” -we make sure that we obtain all valuable information about the place, the fishing boat & gear, and the date of each catch. KONVA holds a long-term leader market position in the main categories of Tuna (17.0 unit share), Tunasalad (22.0 unit share), Sardines & Anchovies (55.0 unit share) value share. Export sales during the pandemic year of 2021 increased by 15% compared to 2020, while our main goal is the raise of the exports share in the total turnover to reach 20% over the next three years, developing new partnerships in Europe, Asia and America.

What does the company’s portfolio include?
We are the only Greek company that manages such a wide range of fish, including sardines, anchovies, tuna, tuna salads, salmon, mackerel, octopus, musk octopus, squid, shortfin squid, in different packages and sizes of containers. The company can handle dry cargo, refrigerated and freezer products. Moreover, we have the capacity to manage a big variety of recipes and secondary raw materials.
The management of such a wide range of raw material, the advanced know-how, the innovation and the top quality and taste of our products confirm our position as the expert in fish in the mind of the consumers.
At the same time, our promise “Everything around the fish” is the driving force for the continuous creation of new products through the close cooperation of the R&D and the Marketing Department of the company, based on the new trends, eating habits and needs of the modern consumer.

Which do you consider to be the company’s greatest comparative advantage in relation to the competition outside Greece?
If I have to put it in just three words, I would say innovation, high quality and top taste.
Our two main pillars for our exports in foreign markets are our smoked products (Tuna and Tuna Salads) which hold a global innovation in the natural way of smoking the fish, and Greek Small Fish which is sought after, thanks to its unique taste characteristics, courtesy of Aegean Sea’s unique microclimate.

What are KONVA’s best selling products in foreign markets?
We are active mainly in Europe, the Balkans, but also in Asia (Kazakhstan and Israel), while we made a strong entrance in the market of Egypt and our main goal is to promote products with strong competitive advantages.
Our 3 flavors of smoked tuna together with the 3 flavors of tuna salads with smoked tuna and quinoa / beans / lentils are considered innovative products, as the smoking taste of the fish is obtained naturally, using beech wood. In combination with raw materials characterized as modern superfoods, we create complete and healthy meals, following the trends of the modern era.
Another KONVA best seller is Aegean Sardine. The conditions and biodiversity of the natural environment of the fish result in its light-colored, tender and tasty flesh without scales, justifying its quality superiority beyond compare.

Environmental sustainability. It started as a trend, but is now linked to the very real state of climate change. What is the position of the company and (if any) its moves in this direction?
Environmental protection is not just a prevailing trend but a given and continuous need. It plays an increasingly important role both in the operation of companies and in the buying behavior of the consumers who have added to their main selection criteria values related to the actions adopted by the brands they choose.
The main steps we have taken in this direction are the following:

  1. We have created a pioneering traceability service, the “track and trace”.
  2. Our suppliers are strictly members of ISSF & dolphin safe and professionals who adhere to the best fishing practices in accordance with the legislation.
  3. We recycle aluminum, tinplate, plastics and paper. The company also adopted a styrofoam recycling program, described as a good example of good cir–cular economy practice by the circular economy group of the region of Central Macedonia.
  4. We manage all liquid and animal waste with biological treatment (energy production).
  5. The electricity we use comes exclusively from renewable sources.
  6. We support long-term institutions related to environmental protection (Enalia, MOM).