He is Argentine, an email changed his life and he set up a $1 billion business
29 Dec 2021
Stefan Hermansson, 45, is an Argentine of Swedish descent who has been an entrepreneur since before finishing his university degree in business administration and today is in charge of the company BIO MAC, who chose OIA to certify their products.
His first project, in 1999, was a sports community with reservation systems that lasted as long as it took for the dot-com bubble to burst. But, in 2002, he began a new path with Biomac, a company that took advantage of the devaluation of the peso to export frozen fruit from Argentina to the rest of the world.
“The reality is that after my first venture I didn’t want to return to the dependency relationship and my brother-in-law, who specializes in international trade, told me that I had to take advantage of the context to export. He mentioned to me that in Europe there was a growing demand for organic food. This is how I went to the Sial Fair with the idea of selling organic jams, but I immediately realized that there were large manufacturers with very low costs and high quality. So, the next day, without much expectation, I tried to detect another opportunity and found several people interested in buying frozen fruit,” he told LA NACION.
The first year of the venture was hard until, in June 2003, he received an email from one of the attendees at the fair requesting a quote to send several containers of frozen strawberries to China. “There I started looking for suppliers through INTA, which gave me contacts in Tucumán and Santa Fe. I went to visit them without experience and without money to pay them in advance. It was a challenge for them to trust me and send me 23 tons of strawberries by truck, but it worked out. I sent five containers to China and one to Sweden and the following year the client from China bought 15 more. The one from Sweden also bought,” he said.
During the following four years, the business continued to grow until the global crisis of 2008, when it began to focus on the domestic market, selling to large industrial clients, such as Canale, Arcor and Freddo. As a result of this, it began to need a space to process and store the fruit and, in 2013, it opened its own plant in the area of Tortuguitas, Malvinas Argentinas, in the province of Buenos Aires.
Back then it went from having 10 to 110 employees in four months, but sadly, three years later the plant suffered a fire and had to forcefully reconfigure the business again.
“It was necessary to fire 70 people who were operators, recover stocks, pay debts and continue with 40 people who had to be relocated. Luckily everything went well with a lot of support from our suppliers and today we outsource everything with a very strong quality department that supervises the processes so that they meet our requirements and those of our clients”, he assured.
This year the company’s turnover would close between $800 million and $1 billion, 25% more than last year. The idea for 2022 is to at least repeat this scenario.
Currently, they export frozen strawberries, blueberries, peaches, sweet potatoes and pumpkins and are looking at adding frozen garlic cloves and onions. They also sell fresh blueberries and pumpkins, and dry goods like sesame and chia seeds. The main orders come from the United States and Canada for everything that is frozen, while Europe demands fresh and dry products.
On the other hand, in the domestic market they advanced with a network of resellers that grew from 200 to 800 during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The idea is that, through a reseller or e-commerce, the customer can buy everything they need to have a healthy diet. We started by reselling products with third-party brands such as Franui, hamburgers and plant-based milk, but now we are developing our own brand. During 2022 we will be launching organic honey, organic olive oil and pulp for six-month-old babies, among other products”, he concluded.
Source: La Nacion