Craig Morris, GAPP CEO , May 04, 2022
How Consumer First Drives Business Forward
Nestled between the Pyrenees Mountains and a bustling thoroughfare that connects the isthmus of Spain is the homebase and headquarters for Angulas Aguinagas, one of the leading seafood businesses in Spain. Driving up to the small industrial area, you immediately notice that even the building exterior—some say sculpted to evoke the “waves” others say they’re “tiny eels”—is striking and different; out of place among the other grey, nondescript buildings that line the road.
But “different” doesn’t end at the exterior, it goes all the way inside to the heart of a cutting-edge research and innovation center and beyond. The company, which began in 1974 as a business dedicated to the harvest of popular Spanish delicacy baby eels, has seen many changes since its inception. Including, navigating the complete collapse of the baby eel population in 1991.
I was struck immediately by the mission statement for the company “Revolutionize the food industry at the service of the consumer,” and even found myself asking whether that was the mission statement for the entire company or just for the R&D center. The response? The entire company.
I’ve traveled a lot through my career and toured a lot of food facilities. Never have I read a mission statement that started with service to the consumer. It’s clear that Angulas wants to be a seafood—a food—company that does things differently.
So what does that really mean? Serving the consumer?
To Angulas, it means first studying consumer behavior to understand their specific needs, second it means revolutionizing product and processes to fit those needs, and lastly it means continuously innovating across the company to constantly change and evolve to meet the ever-changing consumer needs.
I first met Angulas through our Association of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers (GAPP) Partnership Program which aims to put Wild Alaska Pollock in front of more consumers, in more ways, every day—through product innovation and marketing. Angulas applied for funds to launch some new offerings throughout Spain and other parts of Europe. While we eagerly approved their proposals as they fit the program mandate to a proverbial “T” I had no idea just how much their corporate story would resonate.
During the visit, I heard that the company’s mission was born out of an inherent need to innovate for the consumer. Facing a baby eel shortage, the company turned to surimi—much of which is made with Wild Alaska Pollock. They humbled themselves, traveled to Japan to learn from the surimi masters and were told that what they were seeking to do: make “baby eels” from surimi—was all but impossible.
But they persevered, and years later have built a brand around baby eels made from Wild Alaska Pollock surimi. During our visit, we learned that once again, the consumer has changed and thus—Angulas must evolve to continue serving their mission and serving their consumer. As baby eels decline in popularity as a historical dish in Spain, the company has shifted to other items including the popular Pinxtos—a bar-style “small bite” food that is very popular in certain parts of Spain and even across the border in France.