Alfredo Coto received his first lessons about meat marketing from his father, Mr. Joaquín Coto. It all began in 1970. Alfredo Coto and his wife, Gloria, founded the first Argentine company that boosted the producer-to-consumer direct retail system, and the first to market 40,000 kg of meat per branch per month: COTO C.I.C.S.A. In order to cut costs and improve the traditional retailing method, COTO designed special butcher shops with an aerial quartering system and specialty cuts on the counters.
The main difference was the purchase of live cattle, meat processing at self-owned plants, distribution and direct retail sale through its own stores. The company grew fast incorporating the new trend of marketing strategies but never lost its main values. And in 1987, Mar de Ajó was the scenario for the great step: the first COTO Supermarket. New branches were opened soon in Buenos Aires and the GBA. The great chain had already been born.
Since the last decade, the retail market became more dynamic each time. A market composed every time by more reasonable customers. Customers comparing prices, quality and services. In this type of market, greatly invaded by an ever growing informality during recent times, Coto has become the chain with greatest sales per square meter in the Capital Federal and G.B.A. This is due to the variety of formats employed, to the strategic location of its braches, as well as the company's constant commitment of being closer to Argentine people, opening more branches wherever needed. Nowadays the commercial proposal has been diversified in order to satisfy multiple needs.
COTO's different formats include: • 14 Hypermarkets • 15 Small Hypermarkets • 26 Large Supermarkets • 41 Supermarkets • 10 Small Supermarkets • 9 Minimarkets • 18,000 employees • 3 Meat processing plants for cattle slaughtering • 1 Processing plant for chickens • 1 Production and Distribution Centre with a surface of 110,000 covered square meters.
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COTO leads the domestic market based on its marketing strategies that have improved its return over investment adding great value to its assets. In that respect and with that added value as a driving force it began its worldwide expansion.
One of the clues to COTO’s success is its permanent expansion policy. This policy impels it to seek out not only new domestic but also international markets. For this reason, at the end of the 1990’s, COTO began a vigorous exports policy, achieving, as a result, the leadership in bovine meat exports, Hilton Quota and Non-Hilton Quota cuts and for processed and semi-processed leather for shoes, household and automobile upholstery. These results are not only due to the company’s exporting capabilities, but also to the prospect that Argentina’s markets now represent: • A country rich in natural resources. • A technological backbone developed between 1990 and 2002 (gas, power, communications). • Up to date industrial capability with great growth potential. • Qualified and low cost labour.
COTO’s Production Line
Beef and leather production begins with the purchase of cattle on the hoof (70% directly from cattle ranches). Once slaughtered, the animals are quartered (separating the meat from the hides) and the meat is further sliced into different cuts. COTO owns two of the three meat processing plants it makes use of. The final production step is achieved once strict quality checks have been performed, and the cuts are packaged for export (either chilled or frozen). In the case of leather, the hides are delivered to the tannery to be treated, obtaining there, processed and semi-processed leathers for export. COTO is present during the whole leather processing cycle, supervising, controlling and training.
COTO’s commitment with the taste and quality of its beef exports gears the company towards something bigger than a simple beef packer. Argentina’s beef is one of the best in the world and COTO’s beef is the best in Argentina. That is why, in 1988, COTO was able to export its cuts to different parts of the globe where Argentine beef is really appreciated. COTO exports beef to Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, U.K., Spain, France, Russia, Hong Kong, Brazil, Chile, Peru and other non-traditional markets like Egypt and Algiers, Ukraine, Bosnia and Croatia. To maintain negotiations with all these countries demands an intensive programme of quality control and a vast experience that COTO has acquired over the years to live up to the requirements of each international customer. COTO is one of the biggest beef exporters in the world. And that is not achieved overnight; it is the result of producing fine quality cuts for export.
With its great experience and because of its high standards quality control COTO’s beef were included in the Hilton Quota, which allows the company to export the finest cuts to the European continent. The international benefits offered to COTO clearly demonstrate how important a company it is when exporting beef to such diverse world markets. Such favourable reception comes from selecting genetically qualified steers, mostly Aberdeen Angus, which are fed with natural pastures in the best fields of the country. This is also due to the fact that COTO has certified its quartering methods under the ISO 9000 standard, guaranteeing its high quality. And also because of COTO’s participation as exhibitor in events like ANUGA International Food Fair in Cologne, Germany, Alimentaria in Barcelona, SIAL in Paris and other international exhibitions. In this way, COTO has unmistakably established its significance as beef exporter. The beef export business entails a big responsibility. It is guaranteeing not only the finest cuts to every importing country, but also the highest quality. For that matter, COTO has devised a Quality Control Unit with all the capability, knowledge, and efforts necessary to constantly monitor the incoming supplies that are to be marketed by COTO’s chain of supermarkets or abroad.
The quality control begins at the processing plants, where the Quality Control personnel execute different procedures such as GMP (Good Manufacturing Procedures), SDOP (Standardised Disinfections Operation Procedures), Control of Insects, and HCCP for the different activities that involve personnel, reception, and dispatch of goods, to ensure an excellent sanitary quality throughout the whole production and distribution chain right up to the consumer. On the other hand, the human and technological expertise in which the company invests are the main reasons the world chooses COTO beef:
• The company controls 3 beef processing facilities for slaughtering and processing bovine cattle which help boost its production capability. This year its volume has been increased to 300,000 heads per year.
• The company works in conjunction with the breeders, constantly improving cattle quality, its feeding, and every factor that may contribute to a correct breeding of the steers from the cattle farm to the processing plants.
• The company is constantly investing in new technology for the production facilities, and constantly updating the production processes, ensuring the best quality for the finished product. In this way, COTO’s quota is increased every year. And more and more people are recognizing COTO’s quality beef, the world over.
C OTO is aware of the fact that customers want quality products without seriously affecting their budgets. With this in mind COTO has procured alliances with leading brand companies to yield new products with the exclusive COTO, CIUDAD DEL LAGO, CRISTAL DEL LAGO and ESCUDO DE ORO brands. As a result COTO has today 500 proprietary brand products present in the Argentine households.
The COTO Brand: When Quality Speaks For Itself. This brand includes a great variety of high quality foods. Among them we find salad dressings, dairy products, ice-creams, bakery products, canned food, frozen food and pastas. Through the COTO trade mark -carrying the same name as the maiden company- our customers get quality products at affordable prices.