Prefried products to spark new trend

Asia is one of the most important regions for buying and processing fish and seafood. Heiko Lenk recognized this fact early on and set up his own service company in Thailand to offer support during procurement of seafood. His company now holds ISO 9001:2008 certification and has started producing convenience products for the European market.

Heiko Lenk employs about 20 people in Asia and Europe who together took care of about 8,500 tonnes of product in 2008.

Heiko Lenk roams between different worlds. For more than 250 days a year he is ‘en route’ – travelling back and forth between Europe and Asia to bring shrimp from Thailand or pangasius from Vietnam to the European market. As a rule he does not import the fish and seafood for his own account but acts as a problem solver who has knowledge of the culture and market structure in both Asia and in Europe. “The customers who turn to us know which product they want and can define the product specifications. It is then our job to organise everything from sourcing to delivery because we are on site and are knowledgeable about the companies and their possibilities”, says Lenk to describe his company’s service spectrum.

 

Buying service in Asia

“We develop private labels for the food service segment, cash & carry markets, grocery and industry sectors, and support all our customers’ activities on site”, says Lenk, going into more detail. His company has its own teams in Vietnam, China, India, Bangladesh and Thailand for selecting raw materials and factories, monitoring product processing and packaging, and carrying out all inspections and controls that are necessary up to shipment. Each team is headed by food technologist. “We give our customers the certainty that the products will meet their expectations”, ensures Lenk. It is the customers who act as importers, and Lenk Frozen Food charges a service fee based on the extent of the work involved.

The headquarters of Lenk Frozen Foods are in Bangkok, not far from Samutsakhon, the biggest auction market for shrimp in Thailand. Thailand constitutes the base and the starting point for the company’s activities in Asia. Lenk operates internationally and has customers on a contract basis in numerous EU states. Half of total sales are made in Germany, half abroad. Lenk’s customers come from the sectors import, grocery and industry. A good six years ago Lenk took the plunge and moved with his family to Thailand. Today he employs about 20 people in Asia and Europe who together took care of about 8,500 tonnes of products last year.

 

The headquarters of Lenk Frozen foods in Bangkok.

First Thai company to gain ISO 9001:2008 certification

In order to optimise this product flow with its continuous cycle of product ideas and development, buying, customised processing, dispatch, customs clearance and distribution the company made considerable investments in internal work processes over the past years. The company headquarters in Thailand and the offices in Germany, India, China, Bangladesh and Vietnam all work with a uniform SAP software to harmonise and document communication and order processing. Heiko Lenk is particularly proud of the company’s recently acquired ISO certificate (in the latest version) as proof of his defined, organised work processes.

 

All the recipes are adapted to European taste. The product line comprises both finger food and fillet products for the grocery and catering sectors – all products are suited to preparation in convection ovens, conventional ovens, deep-fryers or the frying pan. From left to right: Barramundi Fillet “a la Meuniere“, Gourmet Pangasius “Knusperli“,Gourmet Pangasius “Crispy Crumb“

 

Start-up of own production

In addition to customised problem solutions Lenk Seafood has now begun developing and producing its own range of prefried fish products, e.g. in beer batter, crispy crumbs or pan-fried with lemon and herbs (“à la meunière”). All the recipes have been adapted to European taste and are produced in co-operation with a BRC-certified production plant in Vietnam. The product line comprises both finger food and fillet products for the grocery and catering sectors – all products are suited for preparation in convection ovens, conventional ovens, deep-fryers or the frying pan. “We are not trying to compete with exactly calibrated portion products that are cut from blocks but want to concentrate on natural fillets from farmed fishes such as pangasius or barramundi”, emphasizes Heiko Lenk to clarify the company’s direction. The current line is to be extended quickly, for example by the addition of Pangasius Lemon Sticks with a weight of 15 grams. “The grocery sector is constantly looking for new products and we are sure that we will be able to set new market trends with our prefried line” – Lenk is confident and has a number of innovations and new products in the pipeline for the next two years. nik