Welcome to FIS   Sponsored By
United States
Subscribe to FIS | Register with FIS | Advertise with FIS | Newsletter | About FIS | Contact us

Mardešić fish factory (Photo: croatiaweek.com)

Oldest Croatian island fish factory coming up with new flavours

Click on the flag for more information about Croatia CROATIA
Tuesday, March 12, 2019, 21:00 (GMT + 9)

“It’s from the Tommy store (EN:croatian supermarket chain). And where they got it from – I’ve no clue,” says eighty-eight-year-old Mare, sitting at her kitchen table, as she extends a chocolate roll cake and a glass of red wine towards me. “Everything is made in factories nowadays,” she adds, then gets up from her chair, shakily, to answer the home phone – a relative she hasn’t talked to in a couple of years has rung her up from Canada to wish her a happy birthday. It’s not her birthday, he’s made a mistake, like the last time, but they keep chatting for a brief while.

Croatian island of Dugi Otok

When she comes back, she tells me she’s earned her pension here in Sali on the Croatian island of Dugi Otok, at the Mardešić fish factory, where she worked from 1949-80, and where, in the storage room, she exchanged first words with her husband.

The Mardešić factory, founded in 1905, used to occupy the building that now houses the Maritimo bar, located just opposite the ferry pier. “Where we once worked, the young now waste their time,” says Mare matter-of-factly. “In the ‘80ies, a new factory building was constructed across the cove, but I’ve never worked there.”

Maritimo bar (Photo: croatiaweek.com)

“Everything was done by hand – our hands touched the fish directly, and the fish is cold,” she continues. “We didn’t have gloves as they do now, only protective covers for fingers. I worked everywhere: in the barracks, in the brine facility, the cooling room, the storehouse, the cafeteria. There were no fixed working hours like today – we worked day and night. Overtime paid five per cent more. In case of a really big catch, we’d come back to work even after dinnertime, after 10 pm, and stay as long as necessary. This was especially difficult for women who commuted by boats from Zaglav, Žman or Luka.”

Vintage photo of the fishing port of Sali (Photo: croatiaweek.com)

Originally from Zagreb, Tamara Milić has worked as a quality control specialist at Mardešić for six years now. As she is showing me around the factory, she explains that in 2017, they were partly bought by a Zadar company Pilchardus, whose founders also own Arbacommerce, a company which purchases and freezes the sardines, and processes the anchovies in their plant in Labin. Their foreign partner is the company Chancerelle, France’s oldest fish-processing company (with a subsidiary in Morocco), operating since 1853, and still a family-owned venture.

“Every two or three months, their delegates come here to trains us,” Milić tells me.

Processing plant (Photo: croatiaweek.com)

Currently, Mardešić employs around eighty workers, sales manager Lucija Šišeta tells me. Fifty per cent of them are from Sali, the other half from Zadar, Slavonia, Ukraine, Bosnia, and Serbia. They take two-week collective vacations two times a year, in summer and winter, when the entire production stops and extensive maintenance work can take place. Weekends are free, unless they have to deliver a special order. Unlike in Mare’s times, there is only one, eight-hour shift – from 6 am to 2 pm. Just before the collective winter vacation this year, I find out, they celebrated the wedding of two employees, here on the factory premises. 

Raw material (Photo: croatiaweek.com)

“Besides our cooperation with supermarket chain brands, we also deliver four products to the French market,” continues Šišeta. “Sardines in extra virgin olive oil, in bio olive oil, peanut oil, and the so called “nature” sardines, without oil and with the addition of lemon. For now, we’ve stopped processing tuna and mackerel, although we still ship anchovy – mostly as a semi-product.”

“Our new owners have decided to exclusively process the Adriatic Sea sardine, recognized for its quality by the French market,” explains Darko Bonja, head of sales and acquisition, who has been with Mardešić for the last forty years. “It wasn’t justifiable to buy tuna and mackerel from overseas and process it here.”

Washing sardines for processing  (Photo: croatiaweek.com)

“Mardešić has meant a lot for Sali, and this island in general, since its establishment,” Bonja continues. “Earlier, the factory had its own fleet, ten or so fishing vessels, along with transport ones, as there was no ferry back then – it was introduced only in the ‘80ies, when Mardešić employed around 460 people. Around 150 fishermen worked for Mardešić at the time. Mostly from Kali, as they are traditionally among the most skilled Croatian fishermen, but from here as well. And although we had no forklift truck, and everything had to be unloaded manually from the fishing vessels, the output was higher: twenty-four million cans.”

Canned sardines H&G (Photo: croatiaweek.com)

When Bonja started working here, there were between twenty to thirty fish factories in Croatia. Only the island of Vis had eleven, and now it has none. Mardešić used to employ all structures: from regular workers to electricians, mechanics, engineers, economists, and that is the reason this part of Dugi Otok has lost only fifty per cent of the population. “In the ‘70ies, Sali counted 1400 inhabitants, now the number has halved,” Bonja tells me. “There are more Sali people living abroad than in Sali. Still, this is the only place on the island that can boast a kindergarten, a primary school, and some young people.”

Canned sardines ready for filling oil or sauce (Photo: croatiaweek.com)

In 2017, Mardešić entered an investment cycle that will continue until 2020. Parallel to that, they are making use of the available measures for co-funding of investments by the Ministry of Agriculture and the EU, and have submitted five projects so far. They have also secured new equipment for sardine processing so that in 2017, with almost the same number of workers, Mardešić produced 4.5 million cans, and the next year, 10 million.


Final product (Photo: mardesic.hr)

However, in comparison to other EU countries, Croatia lags behind in fish consumption, and its fish industry is mostly oriented towards export: to Japan, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, etc. Helped by the initiatives like Riba Hrvatske – Jedi što vrijedi (Fish from Croatia – Eat quality) launched by the Croatian Chamber of Economy, in Mardešić they hope to change some of that by working on new flavours.

By Lora Tomas/croatiaweek.com 



Click to know how to advertise in FIS
United States
May 21, 00:00 (GMT + 9):
The first quarter shows an increase in exports of Alaska pollock surimi from the US
Viet Nam
May 20, 23:40 (GMT + 9):
Ninh Thuận a boom town for quality shrimp fry production
May 20, 23:30 (GMT + 9):
Strong increase in the volume of exports of frozen salmon
European Union
May 20, 23:00 (GMT + 9):
Approved the new protocol of the fishing agreement between the EU and Cape Verde
May 20, 23:00 (GMT + 9):
Exports of coho (Pacific) salmon frozen to Japan grew 6% year-on-yea
May 20, 22:50 (GMT + 9):
Biolorrusia is the main destination of the Capelin exported by Iceland during the first quarter of 2019
Viet Nam
May 20, 22:30 (GMT + 9):
Fisheries exports forecast to pick up after listless first quarter
May 20, 22:00 (GMT + 9):
Aquaculture Vaccines Market Value to Hit $290 Million by 2025
May 20, 21:00 (GMT + 9):
Food equipment demand drives Marel to seek Amsterdam listing
May 18, 00:50 (GMT + 9):
Shrimp season will begin in mid-June
United States
May 18, 00:10 (GMT + 9):
Washington state and Norway agree to cooperate in maritime technology innovation
May 17, 23:50 (GMT + 9):
Mitsui to acquire 35pc stake in Vietnamese shrimp producer Minh Phu
May 17, 23:50 (GMT + 9):
Inidep initiates hake stock evaluation in Argentine-Uruguayan Common Fishing Zone
May 17, 22:00 (GMT + 9):
Weekly movements of fishmeal and fish oil (Norway, China, Peru)
May 17, 21:40 (GMT + 9):
Senate approves end to automatic renewal of industrial fishing licenses

Shrimp season will begin in mid-June
Argentina The entire shrimp fleet will be able to operate in argentinean waters, within the Permanent Hake Closure Zone, between June 14 and 15. That is the date that a priori authorities handle, as Pescare.com...
Malvinas (Falkland): National Government will not advance in the creation of a regional organization of fisheries management
Argentina The steps taken by Governor Rosana Bertone along with national legislators in defense of the Argentine sovereignty over Malvinas gave positive results, and forced Chancellor Jorge Faurie to admit befo...
A European project aims to develop a sustainable food from bons and fish skin
European Union A European project coordinated by the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) aims to develop a food of sustainable marine origin ready for consumption, from the use of discards from fishing, al...
European Justice confirms that the red crayfish is an invasive alien species
Belgium BRUSSELS (EUROPA PRESS) - The Court of Justice of the European Union (TEU) has endorsed Thursday the inclusion of red crayfish in the European list of invasive alien species, a decision that had been ...
Maruha Nichiro Corporation
Nichirei Corporation - Headquarters
Pesquera El Golfo S.A.
Ventisqueros - Productos del Mar Ventisqueros S.A
Wärtsilä Corporation -Wartsila Group Headquarter-
ITOCHU Corporation -Headquarter-
BAADER - Nordischer Maschinenbau Rud. Baader GmbH+Co.KG (Head Office)
Inmarsat plc - Global Headquarters
Marks & Spencer
Tesco PLC (Supermarket) - Headquarters
Sea Harvest Corporation (PTY) Ltd. - Group Headquarters
I&J - Irvin & Johnson Holding Company (Pty) Ltd.
Blue Continent Products (Pty) Ltd - (Oceana Group Limited)
Pesquera San Jose S.A.
Nutreco N.V. - Head Office
CNFC China National Fisheries Corporation - Group Headquarters
W. van der Zwan & Zn. B.V.
SMMI - Sunderland Marine Mutual Insurance Co., Ltd. - Headquarters
Icicle Seafoods, Inc
Starkist Seafood Co. - Headquearters
Trident Seafoods Corp.
American Seafoods Group LLC - Head Office
Marel - Group Headquarters
SalMar ASA - Group Headquarters
Sajo Industries Co., Ltd
Hansung Enterprise Co.,Ltd.
BIM - Irish Sea Fisheries Board (An Bord Iascaigh Mhara)
CEFAS - Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science
COPEINCA ASA - Corporacion Pesquera Inca S.A.C.
Chun Cheng Fishery Enterprise Pte Ltd.
VASEP - Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters & Producers
Gomes da Costa
Furuno Electric Co., Ltd. (Headquarters)
NISSUI - Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Ltd. - Group Headquarters
FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization - Fisheries and Aquaculture Department (Headquarter)
Hagoromo Foods Co., Ltd.
Koden Electronics Co., Ltd. (Headquarters)
A.P. Møller - Maersk A/S - Headquarters
BVQI - Bureau Veritas Quality International (Head Office)
UPS - United Parcel Service, Inc. - Headquarters
Hamburg Süd Group - (Headquearters)
Armadora Pereira S.A. - Group Headquarters
NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Headquarters)
Omega Protein Corporation
Marona S.A.
Mowi ASA (formerly Marine Harvest ASA) - Headquarters
Marubeni Europe Plc -UK-
Findus Ltd
Icom Inc. (Headquarter)
WWF Centroamerica
Oceana Group Limited
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
Ajinomoto Co., Inc. - Headquarters
Friosur S.A. - Headquarters
Cargill, Incorporated - Global Headquarters
Benihana Inc.
Leardini Pescados Ltda
Mitsubishi Corporation Marine Products Depts. D.Team
CJ Corporation  - Group Headquarters
Greenpeace International - The Netherlands | Headquarters
David Suzuki Foundation
Fisheries and Oceans Canada -Communications Branch-
Mitsui & Co.,Ltd - Headquarters
NOREBO Group (former Ocean Trawlers Group)
Natori Co., Ltd.
Carrefour Supermarket - Headquarters
FedEx Corporation - Headquarters
AKBM - Aker BioMarine ASA
Seafood Choices Alliance -Headquarter-
Austevoll Seafood ASA
Walmart / Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (Supermarket) -Headquarter-
New Japan Radio Co.Ltd (JRC) -Head Office-
Gulfstream JSC
INVE Group - Head Office
Marine Stewardship Council - MSC Worldwide Headquarters
Royal Dutch Shell plc (Headquarter)
Genki Sushi Co.,Ltd -Headquarter-
Iceland Pelagic ehf
AXA Assistance Argentina S.A.
Caterpillar Inc. - Headquarters
Tiger Brands Limited
Morpol ASA - Group Headquarters
National Geographic Society
AmazonFresh, LLC - AmazonFresh

Copyright 1995 - 2019 Fish Info & Services Co.Ltd| All Rights Reserved.   DISCLAIMER