CATESA: the art of doing business with flowers and plants in Europe
Catesa Foods, S.L., (CATESA), company located in the village of Tacoronte, Tenerife, Canary Islands. They dedicate themselves to the agricultural production and their main products are banana, ornamental plants, vine, and subtropical fruit trees.
CATESA was founded on 25 of March 1942, being the controlling shareholder the company Ebro-Puleva. In 2005, the company was purchased by an investor group with 100% Canary Islands capital. Its activity is focused on rural properties in the north of the island, specifically in the area of Valle Guerra. Located in Tacoronte for more than 70 years, in March 2017 they turn 75 years, they dedicate themselves to agricultural production, mainly plantain crops, ornamental plants, and subtropical fruit trees such as papayas, mango, avocados and citrus.
What is the main activity of the company?
CATESA has four main business lines, such as bananas, fruit trees, vine and ornamental plants. Plantain crop takes up a total of 80 hectares, followed by ornamental plants, with 40 hectares. Vine and fruits take up around 20 hectares.
Currently, there are 150 employees working in the crops.
Their main crops, related with ornamental plants, they are kentias, cycas, arecas and chamaedoreas, in addition to all kind of palm trees, woodland, shrubs and indoor plants.
Over these years of experience, CATESA has become in one of the biggest plant producers in Canary Islands.
Why is it interesting for business development to look at foreign markets?
Basically, because of two reasons. On the one hand, because Canary Islands’ market is small and limited. CATESA has presence in the local market, what gives continuity to business activity, since there is not seasonality in consumption. On the other hand, since the company was founded and the philosophy of Ebro-Puleva has influenced CATESA International nature.
Since its foundation in 1942 they began with beet production, then with bananas and by the end of 60s with roses, but always keeping a look at foreign markets.
Currently, what projects do you have in the outside? In what countries and why?
At present, the target markets are the Iberian Peninsula and Portugal with wholesalers’ clients and garden center, and Europe, mainly Germany and Holland with wholesalers’ clients and garden chains and Do-it-yourself, apart from Switzerland, Austria and France.
They have exported garden plants to Africa, specifically to countries like Morocco, Cape Verde and Equatorial Guinea.
In Canary Islands market they work mostly for florists, garden center and public and private works. This market offers stability because it has a stable demand along the year.
What products or services you find the most interesting in order to internationalize?
Their main crops in ornamental plants are kentias, cycas, arecas and chamaedoreas, in addition to all kind of palm trees, woodland, shrubs and indoor plants, which have more demand in the international market.
What problems have you faced while going out? How did you solve them? Have you received any support?
Because of the island character of Canary Islands, we are far from international markets, resulting in a transport price rise and, therefore, in a price increase which provokes being less competitive.
It is true that there are transport aids for exports, but they are not enough for competing in the same conditions of other European companies. The quota system (limited budget) that once is covered you must wait until next year or the application of reducing coefficients in aids of that year.
This has been solved being more efficient and productive with the introduction of quality systems which with being able to reduce costs, as well as the trade margin.
Innovation in the production process has significantly improved our costs.
With respect to aids, it has been important being inside ASOCAN, which facilitates us the assistance to the most important fairs in the sector around Europe, and with the support of PROEXCA, through the Plant and Flowers Sector Plan (participation in Viveralia-Alicante, Iberflora-Valencia, IPM ESSEN-Germany and a direct mission in November to Morocco) and ICEX for direct and inverse missions.
In Carlos Ascanio opinion, “the inverse missions are the most effective ones, because customers visit our facilities and they become more receptive to close commercial arrangements”.
Have you get any international achievement?
“Our best achievement is that we continue with our exports despite the time that has passed since we started with the company. We improved our quality systems by the application of homologated rules like the global gap for flowers and vegetables, and the MPS for ornamental plants, in terms of waste treatment and environmental issues.
Basically, these practices have allowed us to stay in European markets”.
Has it been easy to go abroad, how did you start your experience?
It hasn’t been easy. The economy crisis affects us because plants and flowers are secondary products, lowering our demand and our production. However, the philosophy of a group as CATESA makes easy both the aid processing and being present in the most important fairs about plants and flowers, being a key to pass this bump.
The production activity have always had an orientation to internationalization because of the palm trees demand specially from European markets, where crops have more energetic costs and higher than in Canary Islands crops, which produce in natural temperature conditions.
Why would you recommend going abroad?
Yes, since the local market is really limited and outside Canary Islands there is a big opportunity for doing business. It is also true that European operators have a high quality standard, higher than the local one.
Work and make good production process allow us to sell in any market, especially in European markets
Carlos Ascanio Arroyo – Jonay Aguilar Trujillo
Director gerente – director comercial de CATESA Foods, S.L.
C/ Juan Fernandez 48 - Finca Tagoro
38350 Tacoronte - Isla de Tenerife
(Santa Cruz de Tenerife)
Tel: +34 922 241 875
Translated by Miguel A. Diez Tellez / Laura Falcón Gil, 29 March 2017