Interview with Marta Ferro, Commercial and Marketing Director of Fercarnes
Friday, June 10, 2016
Founded in 1955, Fercarnes remains a family-owned company of the essence of Alentejo. In Oriola, a village in the municipality of Portel, the company is dedicated to manufacture and trade of regional meat sausages according to the traditions to this region. Marta Ferro is the Commercial and Marketing director of this company and represents the third generation in this business that has more than 600 clients spread all over the country.
Tell us the story of Fercarnes.
The ‘Fercarnes’ is a family business, which was born in the 90’s, however, it was my grandfather who started this business in the 50’s. The company did not start with this name, but it was, by that time, a traditional and regional business here in the village.
It all started with the traditional pig slaughter, as many people still do here in the region at home. My grandfather, as he had a grocery store, started selling some products. My dad went into business in the mid-1970s and started to expand the business. It was a more generation and began to sell to the Lisbon area which, like today, was the great of our country’s sales. And it was so … It began to go to Lisbon to sell several regional products, not only sausages, which are our main activity nowadays, but also cheese, bread, olives and charcoal. At that time, was allowed to carry all the goods at once, and my father usually returned with the car empty. Not anymore. Today the market is much more demanding and gradually the company was evolving until it came a time when my father had to opt for a business area. He chose the sausages, since it was what was in the “blood”, as they say.
We are four children. My sisters, too, went into business. My younger brother and I continued our studies and also joined the company because we believe that is what we were carved for. That was my father’s wish, and we grew up also with this desire to move the business forward. We have been growing sustainably. Today we have a team of 25 employees. We continue to be a family business but we are already represented throughout the country. We have been as ‘Fercarnes’ since 1991, we will be 25 years later this year. In 2006, when we moved to these facilities, we were awarded a prize for investment in times of crisis. We were assigned in Barcelona. There was a need, the market was not at a very expansive time, it was not the best time, but the market was looking for us and we were no longer responsive in the old facilities. We were completely strangled in terms of layout and this forced us to come out of the village and build new, more modern infrastructures with greater responsiveness.
What products do they commercialize?
Our main activity is the manufacture of smoked sausages. We characterize ourselves as a regional company of smoked sausages. We produce non-industrial regional products. Our brand is ‘Bem Alentejano’ and we want it to be associated with the work with Alentejo products, with the Alentejo raw materials, which is why we focus more on the regional product. However we already have a wider range of products with more than 20 references, only in smoked sausages. I highlight a product created by us, our Cured Smoked Sausage that is a product differentiated from any other of the competition. We are market leaders in this range. Apart from this, we produce various types of white pork smoked sausages, or black pork smoked sausages, for various wallets and for various tastes. We also produce more distinct pieces such as the Pork Hock Smoked Sausage , for example.
Fercarnes has developed another innovative product. Where did the idea of developing a sliced regional product come from?
In fact, we thought there was a gap in the market. There were many more industrialized products, but in the regional product ranges there was no product sold in the market, already sliced, prepared for sandwiches in the day to day. There was no product of regional quality that fulfilled these conditions. We found this gap in the market and wanted to suppress it. It was not easy to get to the play we have today. It took many years to develop this product as we present it today. There are lots of smoked sausage in the market, but with the characteristics that we work is not found.
Despite the focus on the national market has Fercarnes already won some customers outside of Portugal?
We work 90 percent for the national market. We have customers in other countries, notably Germany, England, most recently in the Netherlands. But they are customers who have emigrated from the region and opened businesses abroad, where they want to have Portuguese products. They want to have quality products and so they look for us. But it is not very expressive yet for us.
How has the acceptance of your products in these countries been?
Our products when they enter the market, as a rule, have had a lot of acceptance. Abroad has been the same. Our products have a great price / quality ratio. They are far from the high-end products prices, but they are not the cheapest due to the quality that we demand from ourselves. At the national level we have a very wide market taking into account the 20 products of the range. We have everything for all types of public. We have from the current product to the most distinguished product, with a much higher price. It is a more specific product that we produce in smaller quantities.
Do the meat used in the production come from nacionals producers?
We buy the meat from national producers, namely slaughterhouses, they own livestock and slaughter animals. We buy according to our need. We do not buy whole carcasses if there is no such need. We buy pieces, legs, loins, we buy what we need for our production. Our producers, both the white pork and the black pork are essentially national and here in the region.
What is your opinion about SISAB PORTUGAL?
I really like the concept of SISAB PORTUGAL. It’s exactly the opposite of what we’re used to. If we want to sell product abroad, we go abroad, but SISAB PORTUGAL is the opposite, it brings international buyers to Portugal to do business. It’s a fantastic event. Whoever had the idea is to be congratulated.
Source: World Portuguese Site