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Seafood Processing



Viciunai gains business with Walmart Canada. Lithuanian seafood processor, Viciunai Group, says its business development in the main markets across the Atlantic is gaining momentum, with the company entering the stores of the global retail giant Walmart in Canada.

After a few years of negotiations and thorough preparation, the Lithuanian company started providing the largest supermarket chain in the world with its salmon and trout this summer.

Although the company’s first products were offered on the American continent more than a decade ago, Viciunai Group experienced a real breakthrough in 2019 and estimates that its total exports to North America have doubled since last year.

“Negotiations with Walmart were long and constructive. We have been busy adjusting recipes and the flavours of our products, as well as handling formalities and sending multiple samples up until this summer, when the Viciunai products were finally shipped to Canada. Naturally, we are expected to meet the high quality and service standards of the Walmart Corporation, and we must also meet the expectations of North American consumers, which are typically very high,” commented Šarūnas Matijošaitis, CEO at Viciunai Group, on the recent development.

He also added that, for now, neither the quantities being sold nor the portfolio of the products is very big; however, the aim never was for big sales in the initial stage.

“When entering a new market or a trading network of such a magnitude, your best shot is to establish yourself with few initial products first; then, if they pay off, the door will open for a wider variety. We hope that in the upcoming years we will be able to establish ourselves in the Canadian Walmart with a wider portfolio of products, but more importantly, we hope that this step will help Viciunai Group to enter the Walmart network operating in the USA. It is the same corporation with similar consumer needs; therefore, once we have adjusted to the network’s requirements and consumer tastes in a similar market, it will be easier to enter Walmart in the neighbouring country.”

Walmart is the largest company in the world, with revenue that exceeds 515 billion dollars. The company employs 2.2 million individuals. Within the network, over 11 thousand stores are managed all over the world, with as many as 90% of Americans living within a 10 mile radius from the nearest Walmart store.

The Lithuanian company has already been selling its products to other USA-based stores and restaurants for 11 years. Viciunai salmon, herring, mackerel and surimi can be purchased in Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, New York and other places. Over the last few years, group’s exports to North America have grown by 20 to 30% yearly. In 2019, however, it has experienced a breakthrough and sales of Viciunai products across the Atlantic have already doubled when compared with those in 2018. During the first seven months of 2019, almost 480 tonnes of the Lithuanian company’s products were sold in North America.
The company group also plans to complete all the procedures this autumn necessary to begin trading in another of the world’s largest trading networks operating in the USA.

According to Šarūnas Matijošaitis, all the major trading networks in the world are happy to accept the company’s products. Experience of working in the international market for two decades, the exclusive focus on the culture of food safety and quality in the group’s factories, and hundreds of new fish and other food products which are created every year are what make this possible.

“Of course, our production volumes and the flexibility we have established with our partners also helps. Viciunai is not only the second-largest producer of surimi products in the world, but is also one of the seafood market leaders in Europe. This is important when you are working with players who not only require exceptional quality but also large quantities.”

Viciunai says the production is subject to strict food safety and quality procedures that are based on the BRC and IFS international food production standards. At the group’s factories, both planned and unannounced production audits are carried out by certification companies and by the trade networks themselves. 90% of such audits ends in the highest, and the rest – in high evaluations.

“Just last week an especially strict audit, performed by the specialists from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), was completed at the group’s main production complex in Plunge, this week we already have some new ones”, Šarūnas Matijošaitis said.