Brothers, children, parents, uncles, grandparents, all agree on a family business. A consensus that is not easy to find, but one that has emerged naturally in the Calvo family, owner of 60% of the well-known Spanish canned brand. “After almost a century of history and with the expansions that the business has had and those we have in perspective, we all agreed that this no longer fits into our surname. The logical thing was that we looked for a name that represents all of us, Calvo preserves, but also Nostromo, the brand we bought in Italy in 1993, Gomes da Costa, which is our brand in Brazil, the fishing vessel business, to the packaging plant,” explains Mané Calvo, great-grandson of the company's founder and its current CEO.
The consensus name chosen is Nauterra, which is what the group has been called since last Wednesday, when the new name was presented to society. “We have managed to merge in a single word where we come from, the land, the local, the local product, with what made us great, the sea, and natural nutrition, which is what will make us continue to grow” , he assures.
The history of the Calvo family is so long that they have not even identified the specific origin. Some of their ancestors must have emigrated to Cuba throughout the 19th century. In 1895, a descendant of his returned to the metropolis in search of his origins and settled in Astorga. There he opens the local grocery store, the supermarkets of the past, so that readers of generation Z and younger can understand it. “He was a very social man. All kinds of people passed by the store, on the road to Santiago, he made many contacts and began to sympathize with the Galician republican movement. These were not good times for dissent. He was imprisoned. “My grandfather stayed in charge of the grocery store,” recalls Mané Calvo, reviewing family history.
It was within those bars of Spain at the beginning of the 20th century where the Cuban emigrant realized that his thing “was not to be a shopkeeper.” Once freed, he wanted to enter the food business. “What he ate then people was canned meat. But with his career and background, they denied him access. At that time everything was quotas and control. This is how he opted for something that no one else did: canning fish. He moved to Galicia, and there he needed even the factory to supply the metal necessary for the containers of that new offer. “That is the origin of why we are the only company that manufactures containers and innovates with them like our latest “Easy Tip.” Since 1986 they have their own fleet of ships to guarantee raw materials. “Innovating and not depending too much on third parties is in our DNA,” he acknowledges.
Nauterra is the corporate name, but consumers will continue to find current brands in stores, such as Calvo in Spain, Notromo in Italy and Gomes da Costa in Brazil. The group has more than 5,200 employees, factories in seven countries and a presence in 68 markets, “There are not many more with consumption capacity,” says its first manager.
Its current growth commitment involves more markets, but above all a greater range of healthy eating products. “The demand for natural food is becoming stronger. We've been doing that all our lives. What's in a can of Calvo? Tuna or sardine and olive oil, sunflower. Is there anything more natural and healthy?” says Mané Calvo. The challenge is far from being a revolution.
“There are no deadlines, no obligations,” he acknowledges. Just one direction. Grow internationally and look for new business niches in healthy eating, where they see many opportunities and continue reinforcing sustainability throughout the value chain.
Its financial battle is the one it fights against inflation, which cuts profits given the tight margin of the business. In 2022, its sales grew by 22%, to 678 million euros. The best year since 2013. On the other hand, profit fell: 23.8 million, 16% less. They failed to pass on the full impact of inflation to customers. In 2023 it will not happen either. Mané Calvo does not expect a big change in trend. Income will rise again, and the deterioration of the margin will be less, he assures, but without concrete data.