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Alimentaria BCN to focus on key production & consumption trends

Alimentaria BCN to focus on key production & consumption trends

Alimentaria BCN, the International Food, Beverages and Food Service Trade Show, will include the new Alimentaria Trends space in its new edition, a meeting point for new developments and innovation arising in the food industry. Taking place April 20-23 (2020) at the Barcelona Fira’s Gran Via venue, it will occupy 4,500 m2 and host around 400 exhibitors organised around five themed areas: Fine Foods (gourmet products), Organic Foods (organic production), Free From (allergens free), Halal Foods (Halal production) and Functional Foods (functional). Managing director Jose Antonio Valls, said, “Alimentaria Trends brings together all products that are no longer market niches and have become categories in themselves.” Reflecting the growing popularity of organic food, the Organic Foods space will occupy more than 1,400 m2 of exhibition space.

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Future of shipping showcased at ‘Piers of the Future’ event

Future of shipping showcased at ‘Piers of the Future’ event


Visitors to the ‘Smart Ports: Piers of the Future’ exhibit in Barcelona were given insights into the future of the world’s shipping trade. Six of the world’s major ports (Antwerp, Barcelona, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Montreal and Rotterdam) took part at the event, held within the Smart City Expo World Congress, 19 to 21 November, at the Fira de Barcelona, where they showcased their most advanced digital transformation and sustainability projects.

The event featured two side events: ‘Policy & Sustainability ahead: IMO 2020, Transparency, Digitisation’, a conference addressing the soon-to-be-implemented IMO 2020 regulation, that will raise taxes on ships’ sulphur emissions, and the ‘Smart Ports Barcelona Summit’, in which the ports engaged in discussions centring on innovation.


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The first e-pack optimization agency in Barcelona is born

The first e-pack optimization agency in Barcelona is born

The start-up Optopus focuses on a NEW solution to make the online shopping experience easier for consumers.

E-packs are the most visible part of an online product, and should have the same importance as a regular packaging in the brick and mortar.

Global eCommerce sales are increasing fast, but consumers keep finding obstacles that render shopping experience a difficult task. According to Elogia and IAB’s “Estudio anual de eCommerce 2018”, 59% of online purchases are made from mobile devices. Traditional displays and packagings that are very effective on physical stores are not optimized enough for the small screen. Furthermore, the use of SEO techniques is very common in global search networks, but not in retail meta-engines.

Optopus is the first e-pack optimization agency in Barcelona. It is born with the commitment to offer a solution to both problems: to ensure the right visualization of a product on an online shop, and to make it easier to find on meta search engines. To achieve this goal, Optopus is using the GS1 standardization methodology amongst others. This quality standards are being implemented already in countries like the US, UK or India, but are still embryonic in Spain. This is a dual task that requires both 2D and 3D adaptation design work, usability, and textual content optimization.

The e-pack that DOES show the info

The industry has been using photographs of their real products as e-packs, which do not communicate clearly the info expected by the consumer. It is now that some brands are starting to look for more sophisticated techniques to show their products more efficiently.

Optopus focuses on achieving better visibility and search finesse on the 4 main purchase decision pillars (brand, product, category and size), while protecting the product identity.

ECommerce users are growing in numbers, and so are a lot of brands, who are investing in boosting their sales on the internet, as well as their market share. In fact, a recent study done by the Cambridge University alongside Unilever UK, has detailed how such e-pack optimization practices can boost online sales up to 24%.  

Barcelona, a technological and design reference

Optopus has born in Barcelona and is lead by Silvia Aguilar, a retail marketing professional with more than 15 years of experience on the sector, and recently leading many e-pack optimization projects across UK and the USA for major brands.

Is is a slow movement towards consume excellency that is advancing globally. Now all this knowhow has allocated to Barcelona, a city that has hosted both big tech corporations like Facebook, Microsoft or Amazon, but also has become an ecosystem for start-ups that make it one of the most attractive and vibrant cities in the world to work in.

About Optopus

Optopus, the first e-pack optimisation agency in Barcelona, is a start-up that focuses on improving the textual and visual online presence of a product at a moment that sees more and more consumers buying online, specially from mobile devices. To that end, Optopus guarantees the correct visualisation of products sold online and their optimal positioning in e-commerce sites.


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Barcelona now has seven ‘green’ markets

"The aim is for the network of green markets to spread through the city, favouring the consumption of fresh, quality, local produce, not only as a healthy habit, but also backing local farm production."

Barcelona has expanded its network of ‘green markets’, an initiative designed to boost the offering of local, organic and otherwise eco-friendly and healthy produce sold at the city’s fresh produce markets.

In October 2015, Barcelona mayor Ada Colau announced plans to turn 25 municipal markets into such green markets under the ‘Mercats Verds’ campaign. Seven are now part of the initiative, which also promotes more sustainable facilities.

The programme is supported by measures such as special labelling to make local produce more visible, helping customers become aware of and buy it.

In May this year, Barcelona’s councillor for Employment, Enterprise and Tourism, Agustí Colom said about half the products at the then four markets participating in the scheme are local, “but they’re not identified.”

Colom said the aim is for the network of green markets to spread through the city, “favouring the consumption of fresh, quality, local produce, not only as a healthy habit, but also backing local farm production.”

The seven markets now part of the Mercats Verds’ scheme are the Clot, Concepció, Horta, Les Corts, Lesseps, Llibertat and Sant Martí markets.


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Barcelona: a port of reference for international logistics

Due to its excellent service, several international shipping companies have made a firm commitment to the Catalan port, designating it as the last stopover to load their ships, especially those destined for long-distance fruit export.

Until recently, Spanish fruit companies saw Europe as the main market focus, but the economic crisis and blockade on deliveries to Russia and other factors have created a new scenario forcing many companies to reassess and diversify their markets.

In this vein, the Port of Barcelona facilitates external trade for companies in the region, as shown by its traffic. Until 2007, the main volume of fresh produce traffic via the Catalan port was in imports, above all from the Southern Hemisphere with citrus at the forefront.

Since then, its fruit traffic in exports has seen great growth, almost reaching the same level as imports. “Exports continue to grow and the Port of Barcelona facilitates this process,” said the head of promotion at the Port Community, Manuel Galán.

With nearly 100 regular lines connecting the Catalan capital directly to over 200 ports on the five continents, Barcelona is the top port in the country for international traffic.

“The quality of Spanish fruit is appreciated in areas such as the Middle East. This is why we have a high frequency of voyages available, whether direct or with stopovers, with a transit time of 12 to 14 days,” Galán said. 

Furthermore, the close collaboration between the Port of Barcelona and the Italian shipping company Grimaldi is reflected in a wide range of short sea shipping services. An example of this is the increased connection between Barcelona and Porto Torres, which Galán said has made Mercabarna one of the main suppliers for Sardinia. 

“Our aim is to position ourselves as the main distribution hub in southern Europe. To do so, in the sphere of fresh produce we have a strategic partner in Mercabarna, the main wholesale market in Catalonia, which enables us to provide a competitive service tailored to our clients,” he said.

Common interests and aims have led to this solid alliance between Mercabarna and the Port of Barcelona, which in turn has led them to participate together in the major fairs in the sector such as Fruit Attraction in Madrid and Fruit Logisitica in Berlin, where they exhibit in a trio along with the Italian shipping company Grimaldi. 

In addition, the Port of Barcelona is working in collaboration with Mercabarna, Barcelona City Council and the company Ecoenergies on a project using the residual cooling generated by the regasification of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to provide industrial cooling for Mercabarna’s refrigeration installations.

“This centralised cold network will enable CO2 emissions to be reduced as well as savings in energy and costs,” Galán said. GNL’s commitment to the Port of Barcelona also includes supplying this fuel to ships, trucks and port machinery in order to offer a competitive, sustainable alternative to their clients, as well as a more environmentally friendly energy solution. 

This article was originally published on page 37 of edition 145 (Sep-Oct 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that issue online here: 

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Mercabarna establishes itself as the top European market

The latest activities carried out by Mercabarna to attract foreign clients were aimed at promoting the activities of the companies in the Fruit Logistica and Fruit Attraction fairs in countries such as France, the UK, Germany, Italy, Poland and Dubai.

Mercabarna, located in Barcelona, is the major food market within Europe and the most significant one for trade in fruit and vegetables.

In 2015 the companies in Mercabarna sold 1,700,000 tons of fruit and vegetables. Furthermore, according to Josep Tejedo, director general of Mercabarna, “in the first six months of 2016 we already exceeded the volume sold last year by 6%, so we hope to end this fiscal year with a sales volume above that of 2015.”

Without a doubt, the pace of the market’s activity is extremely positive. It is important to underline that 74% of the products sold by Mercabarna are from Spain and 26% imported. In the first six months of 2016, 31% of the fruit and vegetable produce was exported, the rest being earmarked for sale in Spain.

Opening up new markets

As for exports, Tejedo said that as these are a significant source of business for many of the companies on the premises, Mercabarna will continue to back export companies. “At Mercabarna we study the markets our operators suggest. Then, in order to attract clients from the markets we consider interesting, we take part in fairs and organise direct and inverse trade missions,” he said.

The latest activities carried out by Mercabarna to attract foreign clients were aimed at promoting the activities of the companies in the Fruit Logistica and Fruit Attraction fairs in countries such as France, the UK, Germany, Italy, Poland and Dubai. The export activity of the operators in the food market’s premises focuses basically on Europe but, Tejedo said, clear business opportunities can be seen in countries on other continents, as in the case of Dubai. In such cases, an operation is launched provided there are a sufficient number of companies in Mercabarna interested in that market.

The Food Trade Centre

Faced with a growing presence of foreign purchasers from all over Europe who come to this market to get supplies of fruit and vegetables, Mercabarna opened this space within its premises this summer. Here one can find offices for rent for short periods of time with all of the services and technology that such traders may need. This September, the first clients settled into this new service we offer.

Mercabarna undergoes modernisation

Mercabarna continues to grow—and not only in terms of trade; it is also working progressively on modernising the market. Already underway, this  project is expected to end in four years.

The first phase, which has already finished, involved renovating the water supply to the market’s seven industrial buildings. Soon work will begin to replace the roofing, make structural reinforcements, etc.

In line with the global aim, the wholesalers are individually carrying out work to modernise their stalls with cold rooms, panels, etc. It is worth noting that all of this work is being done without halting the market’s trade activity.

Organic Food & Mercabarna

“Mercabarna is going to set up a pavilion selling organic products. In 2017, work will be done in order to launch it in early 2018,” Tejedo said. “Consumption of these products in Spain is still very low today, but it is gradually growing and there is a lot of demand from abroad, especially from countries in northern Europe.” 

Tackling food waste

Another of Mercabarna’s significant projects related to its commitment to society and the environment is the ‘Strategic Plan to reduce food waste’ to 0%. “Even so, our global percentage of food waste is already very low at 0.5% thanks to the ongoing effort by the Mercabarna management and the companies there to increase donations to the Food Bank of food apt for consumption but not for sale (1 million kg in 2015),” Tejedo said.

“Moreover, 75% is recycled. Given the great amount of tonnage shifted in the market, these numbers are worth taking into account.”

In order to raise awareness among the 23,000 professionals who move every day through Mercabarna, the first step will involve signing a manifesto at the end of this September with the business associations operating in the market, which will include an entire series of commitments to tackle food waste. 

“As for the investments to achieve this goal, we shall have to change all the infrastructures and operational dynamics we currently use in selective waste collection for the waste generated by the companies in Mercabarna. We have already begun to design the future Food Usage Centre (Centro de Aprovechamiento Alimenticio, CAA), which will also help foster recycling of such waste, making the most of the food that is left out of the commercial circuit. We hope to have everything up and running by the end of 2017.”  

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This article first appeared on page 36 of edition 145 (Sep-Oct 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that issue online here:

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Upsurge in international demand at Alimentaria 2016

Alimentaria Barcelona, Spain’s biannual food and drinks fair, is becoming more international.

Alimentaria Barcelona, Spain’s biannual food and drinks fair, is becoming more international. Organisers were delighted by this year’s figures of more than 140,000 attendees from 157 countries (16 more than in 2014). The number of International buyers, importers and distributors increased by 62%.

Alimentaria has seen the injection of €170 millions in the city. In terms of offer, “Vintage” food recipes revamped, Vegan, health and nutrition supplements and superfood have been the main food trends in the 40th edition of the fair.

According to organisers FIAB (the Spanish Food and Drink Industry Federation), Spain is the world’s seventh largest exporter of food and drink and also one of the leaders in horticultural exports globally.

Offering both online and offline sales the key to the future

Also at Alimentaria, Mercabarna, Barcelona’s wholesale food hub, took the opportunity to present its second report about e-commerce and food. The goal of this initiative is to create awareness of e-commerce within Spain’s small and medium-sized food companies when it comes to sales strategy.

The future consumer will increasingly buy their produce online either for delivery to their doorstep, via new intermediaries (new food portals or using Amazon services, for instance), or collection at a traditional shop.

For the food business, sensorial and purchase experience will be key, as the consumer still wants to experience and touch the product before purchasing it. So it won’t be surprising to see an online shop to be present offline to boost the customer experience.

Today, food represents 2.2% of e-commerce in Spain and fresh produce 0.8% of the total online food spend, though just 13% of online shoppers buy their fresh produce online.

According to MAGRAMA (Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment), fruit and vegetables account for 17% of the total food spend by Spanish consumers. The average household spend on food and drink was €1,482 in 2014. At a macro level, Spanish spent €98 billion on food in 2014, 67.5% of which was consumed in the home and 32.2% involved eating out.


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New green category in ‘Mercabarna Innova’ awards

Companies interested in participating in the 2016 ‘Mercabarna Innova’ awards may submit their projects from May 2 until August 31.

A new category focused on ‘green’ products is being added to the ‘Mercabarna Innova’ awards this year.

As Barcelona’s wholesale food hub, Mercabarna is holding what will be the second edition of the awards as a way to recognise innovation by companies within the complex.

The first category in the ‘Mercabarna Innova’ awards recognises innovation in the creation of new products, formats, packaging and food safety. Projects related to new business models, mobility, sustainability and innovation in customer services will also be accepted. The winner in this category will receive a prize of €6,000 and the runner-up €4,000.

The winner of the new, second category focusing on the development of green products will receive €6,000.

Companies interested in participating may submit their projects from May 2 until August 31, Mercabarna said in a press release.

It said the awards will be judged by a prestigious panel comprised of renowned professionals and experts in the food industry who will take into account criteria such as originality, sustainability and the extent of implementation in the market.

The panel members are Enric Ezquerra, Chairman of the Catalan Association of Distributors and Supermarkets; Jaume Llopis, Professor at IESE Business School; Josep Maria Monfort, Director of Research and Technology, Food and Agriculture (IRTA); Lourdes Reig, Vice-rector of International Relations at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia; and Toni Valls, Director General of Alimentaria Exhibitions.

Read about last year’s winners here: Mercabarna rewards innovation with new awards

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Alimentaria offers more conferences, B2B meetings and launches

Alimentaria’s international buyers' programme aims to open up business opportunities on five continents, so the Hosted Buyers contingent includes guests from every corner of the world: Latin America, Asia, the United States and Canada, Europe and the Middle East.

Taking place April 25-28 in Barcelona, Alimentaria is the place for innovation, business collaboration, competitiveness and knowledge sharing in Europe’s food and drinks sector.

The International Food & Drinks Exhibition will be celebrating its 40th anniversary at Barcelona’s Fira Gran Via Exhibition Centre and its format has been updated to span a broader spectrum of the industry and reflect new market trends and consumer habits.

At its last edition, the event attracted more than 140,000 visitors from around the world and hosted 3,800 represented companies and more than 1,000 international companies.

In 2016, Alimentaria will be streamlined into 5 shows, encompassing the main food and drinks markets:

  • Intervin (wines and spirits),
  • Intercarn (meat and meat products),
  • Restaurama (restaurants, integrates Expobebidas & Congelexpo companies),
  • Interlact (dairy products) and
  • Multiple Foods (confectionery, preserves, oils and premium products).

Multiple Foods, the new show of food trends and special and functional projects, adds Alimentación Ecológica (organic food), Olivaria, Expoconser, Interpesca, the International Pavilions, Lands of Spain, Snacks, Biscuits & Confectionery, Mediterranean Foods, Healthy Foods and Fine Foods, along with the Premium zone and the Olive Oil Bar.

In 2016, Alimentaria’s activities will hinge around six core themes:

  • distribution and retail,
  • CSR,
  • internationalisation,
  • R&D&I and branding,
  • nutrition,
  • and marketing and communication.

Exporting for SMEs

As always, Alimentaria will facilitate contacts between exhibitors and key international buyers across the food and beverage chain, with the aim of encouraging business meetings and firming up foreign deals. At Alimentaria 2014, 59% of exhibitors were already exporting their products, while 73% of those who were not yet selling abroad said that they fully intended to do so within the next two or three years.

Alimentaria’s international buyers’ programme aims to open up business opportunities on five continents, so the Hosted Buyers contingent includes guests from every corner of the world: Latin America, Asia, the United States and Canada, Europe and the Middle East.

This year, the Alimentaria Hub also offers the Export Service Counter for exhibitors, preferably SMEs, who want to venture into foreign markets for the first time. Intended to help companies internationalise their business, this new programme involves experts in all the formalities necessary to take these first steps in reaching foreign markets, from insurance companies and consultancy firms to chambers of commerce and financial institutions.

The Alimentaria Hub

Part of the Alimentaria show, the Alimentaria Hub, boasts new product launches as well as conferences, presentations and consumer trend analysis. It also includes a centre for business meetings and export opportunities and networking sessions to foster entrepreneurship, according to organisers.

One of the big attractions at the Alimentaria Hub is the Food Factory, the meeting place for technology start-ups in the agrifood sector and Business Angels with the capacity to invest in projects with development potential.

Innoval will feature the latest trends and innovations in the sector, exhibiting more than 300 new food products. The Spanish Food and Drink Industry Federation (FIAB) is organising the VII Alimentaria Food Technology and Innovation Meeting, while consultancy firm Innova Market Insights will be leading the ‘Top Ten Trends’ session at which it will present a selection of the ten global trends that are currently setting the bar in the food industry.

Food Bloggers Conference

The 2016 show sees the first Food Bloggers Conference to encourage people to learn about and understand new communication channels. It will be a chance to share knowledge among bloggers and other social media professionals associated with food and gastronomy.

Presentations on sustainability, CSR & the Mediterranean Diet

In terms of presentations, the Alimentaria Hub will host the third Nestlé Forum on ‘Creating Shared Value’, this year dedicated to the industry’s contribution to a sustainable and socially responsible future, and the XI International Conference on the Mediterranean Diet.


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New project to cut food waste at Mercabarna

Food waste is in the firing line as Mercabarna commissions study on why it happens and how to reduce it within the precinct.

How to reduce food waste is the end goal of a study Mercabarna has commissioned from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and the Plataforma Aprovechamos los Alimentos (Let’s Make Use of Food Platform, PAA).

In a press release, Barcelona’s wholesale food hub said the study, expected to be completed toward the end of the year, will establish the volume and causes of food waste produced within its precinct and suggest areas of work and specific actions to reduce it to a minimum.

“This project shows our desire to keep looking for solutions that help us in the fight against food waste. The actions resulting from it will be added to those that we have been carrying out for many years, such as working with the Food Bank,” said Mercabarna managing director Josep Tejedo.

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