When José Viva was a child he already imagined himself "creating things that did not exist". And now that he is 53 years old he presumes to direct a prosperous company emerged from his own inventions. If there are meat sausages, why not make them with fish? Two manufacturing patents and 22 years after this question was asked, his company Embumar bills more than six million euros a year creating and selling from Cádiz more than 20 varieties of seafood sausages.
For the production chain of its Brand new factory – a plant of more than 6,000 square meters premiered last September and located in Jerez de la Frontera- octopus, salmon, tuna, giant squid, cuttlefish or prawns are passed before they are turned into pepperoni, sausages or hamburgers. But the hake sausages of cod and hake lead their sales and are the ones that, back in 1996, gave rise to Viva to create what he prefers to call "embumares".
The idea came from the need to take advantage of a high-value raw material that was discarded and worked, "he summarizes. Although the entrepreneurial adventure that led to this Sanluqueño until the invention of its sea sausages started much earlier. "I started as a shopkeeper", acknowledges the manager of Embumar, whose first job was in the butcher shops of his parents. When he was 17, he got a loan to found a meat pre-cooked firm. And from there, he made the leap to some frozen stores.
A long story
While hauling roe of hake or cod, Viva discovered the high loss that the product had: "More than two thirds were discarded for being broken or not having the ideal size." This is how he researched to be able to separate the roe from its original membrane and stuff it into a plastic 'skin' that makes it possible to cook it. Viva registered two patents, one for the manufacture of roe sausages and another for the same product with marine raw material in general.
In a small salting-house in the port of Sanlúcar, he started in 1999 Embumar. "Then I had no idea of fish. Nor was there anyone who processed processed and stuffed with that raw material, "says Viva. And his ingenuity quoted upwards. The firm penetrated strongly in the hospitality industry and in supermarket chains such as El Corte Inglés. The firm grew and grew: it occupied more rooms of the port until it was moved to some ships in Sanlúcar.
With the crisis, it launched to make "more economic products aimed at the retail segment." And he began selling his roe sticks of 120 grams for approximately one euro. The idea worked so well that its product was placed in supermarket chains such as Carrefour, Mercadona, Dia, Lidl, Alcampo or Eroski. Today Embumar is in more than 15 large stores and retail sales account for 85% of its turnover. If its growth moved between 5% and 10%, with the crisis it reached 30%.
In the new plant where six million euros have invested, fifty hundred workers work by piece to produce up to five tons of fish products per day. In total, the company buys up to 1,500 tons of raw material. In the Embumar factory, the production areas are divided by the color in which the soil is painted – yellow, blue or salmon – and the tasks are scheduled according to the day. To make their roe stuffers, machines designed by the company separate the natural membranes from them without breaking their contents. Another device introduces the grain in plastic sausage containers, before they are sealed and cooked at 85 to 90 degrees for about 40 minutes. "The keys are security, quality, service and cost," says Viva. In fact, the businessman says that this way of stuffing does not have losses of omega-3 as in traditional cooking and that its expiration date extends up to six months naturally.
Viva has more creations in the bedroom thanks to the new plant with which he wants to triple the production. In five years, Embumar plans to increase its sales to 20 million euros, penetrating markets such as Italy and Portugal. "We are at the moment of the launch of the rocket, when it needs more energy, but then it will rise quickly," he says.