PERUZA is an engineering company with more than 30 years of experience in designing and manufacturing industrial equipment for the food industry. The company has three lines of business – development, and manufacture of fish processing equipment, e-commerce and packaging logistics solutions, and robotization, automatization, computer vision, and an artificial intelligence line of business, which is currently under active development. Although our specialization to date has been the manufacturing of processing equipment for small fish, now we currently working on developing equipment to process large fish as well, and this has provided a lot of experience for us, which can be used in the new business lines.

Currently, the company employs around 70 workers, and in 2021 its turnover reached EUR 5.5 million. The yearly export indicators vary, but it can be said that, on average, export amounts to 80% of the turnover. Fluctuations in export indicators arise due to the large scale of individual projects. If a large project is implemented in Latvia, no foreign projects are implemented at the same time, so we do not view it as a fallback. Execution of large-budget orders usually takes a longer period – up to 9 to 12 months. In such a case, it may be so that most of the work is done in one year, while revenue is only recognized in the next year, and then a reduction in the share of exports appears in accounting indicators, thus providing a misleading picture of export projects.

France and Russia were among the first export markets to which our products were sent back in 1993; in cooperation with French partners and a colleague from Astrakhan, a sturgeon roe manufacturing plant project was implemented. After that, supported by recommendations from satisfied customers, we managed to implement projects in one market after another. Currently, we export to various countries of the world, while the top export destinations vary all the time. Constantly repeated orders from a given country are not characteristic to our business. At one point, Canada, Japan, and the Philippines were at the top. This year, Iceland will take 1st place, as very recently, in July, we signed an export contract for EUR 4.3 million, which is 78% of our turnover last year. We actively export to the Faroe Islands and try to penetrate the Scandinavian market, especially Norway and Finland. This year, export was also affected by Russia’s war with Ukraine. In February, we were planning to sign an export cooperation contract for EUR 2.5 million; however, due to the start of the war, the transaction fell apart and was not pursued.

It has only been during the last decade that we have started to actively work on export marketing activities. During the first 15 years of the company’s existence, we gained new customers thanks to recommendations from existing clients. Now, we nurture our export markets very actively with all available means and tools, e.g., by working on the development of digital marketing, using the possibilities of support and co-financing provided by the Latvian Investment and Development Agency (LIAA) for various types of activities and the services by the export consulting firm “Gateway&Partners” to attract new customers.

We have collaborated with LIAA on several projects. At one time, they administered projects for the development of new products, which we took advantage of. Now there are other institutions that deal with this; however, we continue cooperating with LIAA within the scope of projects facilitating international competitiveness and by taking part in various exhibitions and visits. One of the most important and largest exhibitions globally in our sector is the “Seafood Expo Global/Seafood Processing Global” fair which takes place in Barcelona, Spain. We have been participating in it for 15 years already. Participation in such an exhibition costs around 40-50 thousand euros; however, thanks to the co-financing from LIAA for participation in exhibitions, we are able to reduce our costs. This autumn, we will use the opportunity to participate in the Latvian Minister of Economics Ilze Indriksone’s visit to Japan, which is being organized by LIAA. They know that Japan is also one of our export destinations, so we were quickly informed of the visit and asked to participate. We have not taken part in other programs, so I cannot go into more detail.

We are very satisfied with our cooperation with LIAA. We receive what we expect from the agency. LIAA and their sector experts are very competent in what they do, and they create and coordinate projects and support mechanisms professionally, as well as inform us of news in a timely manner. It is clear that LIAA is continuously growing professionally.

I have repeatedly mentioned that in increasing Latvian export capacity, we should draw on football as an example. It has a perfectly developed system for producing world champions. There are yard teams, school teams, youth sports school teams, leagues of various levels, championships, and cups, up to the champion league. The higher you climb, the more targeted and specific help, means, and tools are provided for you to develop. In the beginning, you are simply given the possibility to play on a good playing field, but then, you are asked to undergo various medical checks and provided with special trainers, massages, and diets. This is how the best candidates are selected and promoted. In such a system, everyone knows what to do to develop and climb higher to become world champions. I may not be familiar with how all LIAA programs work, but when I look at the quantity and variety of its activities, it is clear that LIAA works to develop such a champion league system for Latvian businesses and exporters. Companies with various levels of maturity have the possibility to receive the means and tools that are suitable and necessary for them. LIAA makes it possible for any company with such ambitions that is ready to work hard to strive for a championship title. I also do not think the red tape is too excessive. It is only enough to ensure that funds are not defrauded or wasted uselessly.

The “Export Innovation Award” organized by LIAA in cooperation with the Ministry of Economics, the Latvian exporters association “The Red Jackets” and the financial institution “ALTUM” is also an important event. It gives us the possibility to boast about what we have achieved, both locally and on an international scale. It is always pleasant when someone claps you on the shoulder and recognizes you for a job well done.

We also cooperate with the Competence Centre to create and develop new products with which to conquer export markets. When we try to develop something new, we have to be sure that it will work, and in this regard, there is currently nothing better in Latvia than the Competence Centre. We also have several investment projects underway which require large financing, so we work with ALTUM as a source of financing.

During the last decade, we have implemented major changes at all levels of the Peruza organizational structure and have also changed our philosophy. It is thanks to these changes, combined with a generational and paradigm shift, that we have been able to shift from our old partner engagement model to the new one – an active and targeted partner engagement model. We have an established, effective sales team that includes young people, and this yields results.

In all our fields of activity, we look for competence synergies, but each of our fields has its own export markets. Therefore, prior to the acquisition of a market, we must consider which markets might be potentially interesting for any of them. Here, we base decisions on previous experience and our understanding of the markets, which leads to an intelligent, informed hypothesis about which market might be our next export destination. With respect to salmon, the main market is certainly Norway, followed by Chile. We also need to assess which markets have the biggest potential regarding packaging logistics and process robotization. We have to assess which markets are important to us – they are the ones that we want to work on. Still, the main factor is whether there are customers in the given market and if they are ready to pay. The main factor is – whether there are customers in the given market who are ready to pay.

Although, in our case, personal contact with the customer, which we establish by participating in exhibitions, is a very important part of marketing, we are working very actively on the online publishing of digital marketing content and SEO optimization. We are starting to see these activities yield results. As an example, I can mention that we have started receiving orders via our homepage, which previously never happened. All these activities – participation in exhibitions, an online presence, and use of other marketing channels – remind our customers that PERUZA exists and that it is a real, competent company offering a great product. Our team works in a completely different manner than it did 10 years ago, and this evolution is necessary and natural in the development and growth of the company.