Mariangeles Villanueva, Royal Greenland’s new country manager in Spain

    WeAreAquaculture spoke to Mariangeles Villanueva, the seafood product development specialist who has recently joined Royal Greenland in Spain to spearhead new products for the Spanish market.

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    Royal Greenland has recently brought on a new Spanish executive, Mariangeles Villanueva, who as Country Manager for Spain is tasked with revitalizing Royal Greenland’s range with products designed specifically for the Spanish market.

    The Greenland-based company is entirely owned by the government of Greenland, with its fishing fleet and most of its factories located in the country, producing wild-caught seafood including coldwater prawns, Greenland halibut, snow crab, and cod.

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    With the core identity of the business firmly rooted in Greenland and sales offices in many parts of the world, the company is now also seeking to extend its reach inin the Spanish market, with products designed for the different needs of consumers and businesses.

    How does Villanueva see her new role, and what aspirations does she have for Royal Greenland’s products in Spain?

    Spain a key market for Royal Greenland, but needs fish products tailored to its requirements

    Spain is one of Europe’s top consumers of fish and seafood, Villanueva notes. Royal Greenland has already been present in Spain for 18 years, supplying fish products to the hospitality and retail sectors, as well as value-added industries.

    However, Villanueva says “the sector is changing, and we need to offer more specific products for the Spanish market- that’s where I come in.”

    Villanueva will be working closely with Royal Greenland’s key account manager in the Spanish market, Enrique Cordón who, prior to her appointment, was the only senior company representative in the country.

    “My role is to support Enrique and revitalize our product range, creating a range that is more adapted to the Spanish market, with new trends, new categories.”

    Villanueva brings plenty of experience with her to the new role. Immediately prior to joining Royal Greenland, she was New Product Development Manager for Mowi in Spain. Before Mowi, she worked for Scanfisk Seafood, where she was responsible for R&D and innovation projects.

    “I’ve been in the fish sector for 22 years. I’ve worked in and managed the Quality Department, managed the Production Department, and I have been in the Opex Department, as well as in Product Innovation. So, I’m very familiar with the entire production process, from production issues, processes, quality, NPDI, and Product Management, which was my last job.”

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    Developing new products for retail, hospitality and industry customers

    Villanueva says they will be working on products not only for consumer markets, but at “all levels”.

    “We work with industrial clients, so we have products to sell to companies and factories that process these products and then sell them to the end customers. We also have the Horeca sector.”

    “Our idea is to enrich and innovate in the Spanish market.”

    – Mariangeles Villanueva

    “We are going to have products to sell directly to restaurants. In fact, it’s one of the areas we want to grow in, as well as the retail sector, supermarkets, stores.”

    Villanueva notes that Royal Greenland already supply a variety of supermarket chains in Spain, including Mercadona, Carrefour, and Alcampo.

    “We want to be able to reach everyone, but with new products, new presentations, new cuts, new recipes. In Spain, we need to focus better, which is going to be my role. Our idea is to enrich and innovate in the Spanish market,” she says.

    Mariangeles Villanueva in Greenland, home of her new employer, Royal Greenland. Photo: Mariangeles Villanueva / Royal Greenland.

    Spanish seafood consumers increasingly want convenience and sustainability, says Villanueva.

    How does Villanueva see the main seafood trends and needs in the Spanish market, and how will Royal Greenland respond to these?

    “I think the Spanish market wants a high quality, non-treated seafood product without additives. This fits very well with Royal Greenland’s philosophy and market approach. We will thus bring in natural products, but always in a convenient format.”

    “People no longer want to clean the fish, they don’t have time to remove bones, and deal with the waste in their homes. What I see as the future is an attractive, clean, ready-to-cook, zero-waste product. I believe that’s where we’re heading.”

    “What I see as the future is an attractive, clean, ready-to-cook, zero-waste product.”

    – Mariangeles Villanueva

    “The Spanish market is also currently very sensitive to the issue of sustainability, which is something that works perfectly for us because Royal Greenland gives high priority to its sustainability program,” Villanueva says. “Something very important is sustainably certified products. Certified sustainable fishing is the future, and it’s gaining in strength, not only in Spain, but worldwide.”

    It’s the responsibility of producers to educate consumers on sustainability and traceability

    However, she admits that not all consumers are yet aware of such certifications when deciding which fish product to purchase at the supermarket.

    “We’re the ones who have to make them aware. As producers, as manufacturers, as fishermen, we have to give value to our products because we have to take care of the sea. If it’s not us who promote this, then who is going understand it? So, I believe it’s our job to give value to a fishery that is sustainable, that supports the life of the sea. We have to help the customer to understand they are buying a product that takes care of the sea.”

    “Having that certification gives you security. If I buy a fish product that is certified, then I feel secure that it has been caught in a sustainable manner. This other product next to it on the shelf that doesn’t have that certification might be sustainable, but it might not. In the end, we have to ensure that everyone fishes in a sustainable way to guarantee we can continue having this wonderful product, fish.”

    “We have to educate the consumer, to know what they’re buying and how they’re buying it… TRACEABILITY IS ESSENTIAL.”

    – Mariangeles Villanueva

    “We have to educate the consumer, to know what they’re buying and how they’re buying it. It’s important for them to know what they’re buying, because sometimes they simply see the price, and think, “Oh, it’s €1 more expensive than the other product.” But through that extra euro, they are supporting sustainable fishing and helping local fishing communities, because we also have to realize that there is a supply chain, there are many people involved, and in the end, it’s about life for people, right?”

    Traceability is a key component of this approach, Villanueva says, noting that it is one of Royal Greenland’s core values.

    “Traceability is essential. It’s not only important; it’s deeply ingrained in our DNA. We see it as a given. If there’s no traceability, there’s no product,” Villanueva says. “It’s another way to educate people. Traceability is not just for the final consumer, but throughout the entire sector. There’s no other way.”

    New role a “natural evolution” for Villanueva

    “For me personally, it’s a natural evolution within my profession, and I’m very happy to have this opportunity with Royal Greenland, and to be working with Enrique Cordón, who is a wonderful colleague with extensive experience,” she says, noting that she sees their roles as complementary, with Enrique bringing “a lot of value” as they work on the next phase for Royal Greenland products in Spain.

    “Enrique and I have different perspectives, and my vision is more focused on the industrial side, with a deep understanding of the product. I believe we will do a good job for the consumer.”

    “It’s a huge challenge because Spain consumes a lot of fish. We need to present it in the right way. Sustainability and responsible fishing are at the core of everything we do. It’s about what’s right for society and people, it’s our mission.”

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