The beauty of the ASX is undoubtedly in its diversity, but even the ASX is rarely punctuated by a cracking family-founded business that’s everything you’d want as an investor, an Aussie and a hungry human being.

Catalano Seafoods (ASX:CSF) listed in March 2022 after more than half a century of considered and quietly ambitious growth.

Family patriarch, former President of the Perth Football Club, CEO and chairman Nick (Nicolino) Catalano – who started out with his dad serving locals in the legendary Cannington fish and chip (below) – told Stockhead that last year alone, the now global processor, retailer and exporter handled well over 2,000 tonnes of seafood.

From little things… The Catalano’s beginnings in Cannington, 1969 Image: Supplied

Nic says while Catalano has kept the same, simple ocean-to-plate business ethos, CSF is now anchored at the very eye of WA’s national and global seafood supply chain – connecting third party fisheries through the company’s wholly-owned, industry-leading processing capabilities to the rest of the world.

And after 50-plus years, CSF is the go-to wholesale and retail processing, import and export business – sourcing, producing and delivering retail-ready packaged seafood in the cleanest, most efficient and sustainable model that only 50 years of doing it can really create.

“The company IPOd back in March 2022 ($5m at $0.20 per share) with a real purpose to take what we do so well and first expand our national supply footprint,” Nick says.

“Since then, we’ve been rolling out our Seafood Management System in supermarkets – a new concept of taking seafood to a retail level, with IGAs having over 2000 supermarkets across Australia, the opportunity is large and the IPO was a great opportunity for Australians – not just people who’ve been with us from the start – to invest in a product that everyone knows is best in class and is already in huge demand.”

While four out of five Australians eat seafood every week – that’s circa 30kg per Aussie, every year with a retail value alone of more than $1 billion – Nick says the global reputation of West Australian seafood is undeniable.

“Yeah, we’re in a great spot. We’ve now got a world-beating upgraded processing facility in Bassendean (one of the very few ‘toll processing’ facilities in Australia),” he says.

“And (we have a) near-term strategic milestone of expanding our distribution network into the east coast, rollout the Catalano-branded retail equipment to independent supermarkets and take on some of the foodies over there.

Catalano’s Contract (Toll) Processing Hub is a highly-versatile processing and packing services facility that directs the “Seafood Management Solution (SMS)” and sits pretty much at the crux, connecting West Australia’s fishing, aquaculture, retail and food services sectors.

And it brings Catalano’s other verticals and revenue streams into play.

“One of the other areas of what we do is this toll processing,” Nick explains. “Obviously our relationships with the major fishing companies are pretty good – the likes of Austral Fisheries – and we sort out their tough bit, to get the great product they’ve got – process it fast, clean, reliable and we can also help them with R&D and the best, safest presentation of the product for distribution and consumption.

“With Austral Fisheries we’ve been working with the toothfish for the last four or five years and they’re able now to land their toothfish into a restaurant or even export it in retail form.

“We just know – and can deliver – the best way to connect the best seafood range into the independent supermarket network and beyond.

“The SMS is still ocean-to-plate and we’re still delivering fresh and snap frozen packaged seafood – via our Catalano brand in a corner of their supermarket.”

Catalano Seafood
Winthrop IGA Retail Store Image: Supplied

Since listing, CSF has invested and refined the processing into a fine art, with cutting-edge tech that includes exacting safety packaging and ultra-sensitive portioning machines, incredible new scaling tech, and even CO2 cryogenic freezing.

“We’ve refined it now, we can do anything – install specialised refrigeration – and we’ve been gearing up to roll this out across more supermarkets and across the ripe east coast market.”

It’s all a fair whack from when Nick’s dad Francesco and his mum Marianna first opened that fish and chip shop back in 1969.

And it’s as an innovating supplier of fresh and frozen fish to independent supermarkets where Catalano sees intense growth potential.

Catalano already operates three branded sections within IGA supermarkets, nineteen unbranded category-managed supermarkets and its products are in the fresh and frozen aisles of more than 50 independent supermarkets as the national and international ‘ocean-to-plate’ distribution network comes online.

Nick says those closely held family dreams and the company’s ambitions are starting to align, with the east coast rollout well underway.

“The best part, after 50 years, we’re only just beginning.”

This article was developed in collaboration with Catalano Seafoods, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.