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Mercabarna’s major transformations

SPAIN ntw MERCABARNA J Tejedo10 (1)

Its managing director Josep Tejedo sets out how the market plans to convert itself into the Mediterranean’s food hub.

“Barcelona City Council, Mercabarna, the AGEM wholesalers’ dealers association and representatives of the market’s agricultural cooperatives signed a historic accord in February. The agreement allows for the modernization of the central fruit and vegetable market which has operated in our food complex for 43 years. Under the deal, the market’s various business owners will pay the full cost of the works, about €20 million. In return, the council will extend their concessions – due to expire in 2020 – a further 17 years, the estimated time needed for them to amortize their investment.
“This agreement between the public and private sectors will see the market upgraded such that it remains both a national and international reference. Work will start in late 2014 and last five years, during which the market will continue operating. Furthermore, the businesses can make progressive payments over the course of the project.”

The Mediterranean food hub
“Our goal is to convert Mercabarna into the Mediterranean’s food hub, an international center where fresh produce from around the globe is received, has value added to it, is grouped with other foods, and then again dispatched to anywhere around the world. To us the sea is not a border but a major highway. “We have therefore created the Foodstuff Cluster of Barcelona, an umbrella for the Foodservice Cluster, Retail Cluster and Mercabarna Export Cluster. Each of these brings together businesses in our precinct that have interests in different market segments, and together we aim to strengthen the resulting synergies. With companies in the foodservice cluster, for example, we are studying how to sell more to companies in the hospitality sector, and in the export cluster we’re exploring information and business contacts to promote exports.” 

Increasing exports to Europe and beyond
“Exports already form 25% of sales by the companies in the fruit and vegetable sector at Mercabarna and, through the export cluster, we aim to help them increase this percentage and also to increase the number of companies exporting.
In order to do this, we are gathering initiatives from the business people involved and commissioning market research on certain countries, participating in international trade fairs, and organizing  trade missions and meetings between overseas importers and Mercabarna exporters. 
“In regard to those in fruit and vegetables, we have studied the markets of Germany and Poland. We also participated in Fruit Logistica in Berlin, where we facilitated business meetings, and we’ll do the same during our participation in Alimentaria (Barcelona) and Medfel (Perpignan).” 

Capitalizing on expertise
“We continue to export our know-how through our international consultancy, which has become very highly regarded. At present, we’re in the last phase of our consultancy on the fresh food market in Montevideo and have four more international projects in the pipeline.
Another interesting project involves providing training for food sector managers. Mercabarna training services has more than 25 years’ experience in the education of food sector employees and is now expanding it to management level. To this end, we are working and establishing agreements with various universities in order to provide courses on the subjects of international food trade, logistics, food technology, and so on.”
A ‘greener’ market
“On environmental issues, since we launched our environmental project in 2002 and built our specialized ‘Green Point’ – which was a pioneer in Europe – we’ve maintained extremely high levels of recycling, namely 80% of waste generated on our premises (more than 35,000 tons annually). This year we are planning for an upgrade of the Green Point to take place next year.
“Other Mercabarna infrastructure will also be upgraded over this period, such as the central fish market and multipurpose hall. Furthermore, to increase mobility in our complex, we are building a multi-storey car park with a 300-vehicle capacity.”

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5 al Día lifts the Spanish industry

SPAIN intro 5ALDIA (3)

The last 5 al Día conference held in Mercamadrid showed how producers and distributors can better cooperate to respond to consumer trends.

Organised by the 5 al Día association, attendees at the last 5 al Día general assembly held in Madrid last 3rd March had the chance to hear about the most recent consumer approaches. A representative from the Spanish industry and distributors’ association AECOC, Maite Arrizabalaga, showed the results of the latest consumer research on purchasing behaviour. The study focussed on the tendencies of fruits and vegetable customers and on how producers and distributors could draw up a better strategy for sales by considering their characteristics. The study proves that in order to attract greater attention from the public and therefore greater consumption of fruit and vegetables, producers and wholesalers have to get to know their costumers better. The research is based on an evaluation of the answers to the survey that some groups of customers made. There was also an online questionnaire where all the questions dealt with a satisfaction analysis. The focus group was divided into two sections depending on the costumers’ preferred market: if it was a traditional destination (local markets and small firms) or if they preferred buying this kind of product at supermarkets and hypermarkets. 
Maite Arrizabalaga highlighted the importance of such an analysis not only in attending to market expectations, but also in helping to encourage healthy food habits among Spanish consumer society, for which young children and teenagers are the most important target, as the general secretary Isabel García Tejerina remarked at the beginning of the event. In addition, the study gave practical information about various contextual features and how every single feature should be considered in drawing up a strategy. For example, the two main destinations define the frequency of purchases. The results of the analysis showed us that more than fifty per cent of Spanish homes buy fruit and vegetables more than once a week. This may be due to the fact that they are close to the local shop where they get the product. Also, 52.6% of households buy fruit more than once a week and 63.1% of Spanish customers get their products in the traditional market. Most of them (around 80%) admit to buying them at the supermarket only occasionally. 
“Our Customers are at the Heart of the Strategy”
As regards the act of buying, the general evaluation that customers make of the experience also depends on the type of customer already indicated, because those who buy in the traditional channel evaluate it at least one point higher than the ones that buy their fruit at the supermarket, although the average score is 7.9. The different levels of satisfaction may be due to reasons such as these: the fact that in the traditional market customers get better, more qualified assistance from the salesperson; the proximity of the shop and for this reason the freshness of the product; the level of quality and guarantee attached to the products from the local market compared to those from the supermarket; their price, etc… The markets appear to be mindful of the concept of impulse purchases and for this reason they are constantly coming up with new ideas. For their part, the fruit and vegetable sector still has to find a way to take the place of milk and cereals. This might be an onerous task, but we appear to be closer and closer to the aim of “5 al día”: eating an average of 5 pieces of fruit and vegetables every day.  

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New base boosts CMR’s capacity, sales

SPAIN mercas CMR

Moving to a state-of-the-art logistic platform in early 2011 at the height of the financial crisis was a bold move that has paid off for international fruit and vegetable distributor CMR Group.
Its platform adjoining Mercabarna was pivotal in the group’s 15 percent growth last year to a turnover of €120 million.  Import-Export manager Carles Martí Inglada said increased capacity had been a key benefit. The 9,000 m2 facility handles more than 220 types of products. Bananas were one of CMR’s top six fruits sold last year, along with grapes, melon, oranges, avocados and kiwis. 
Cutting-edge, controlled atmosphere cold stores, freezing rooms and ripening chambers, an ethylene removal system and a quality control laboratory help optimize fruit condition while solar panels and rainwater storage reduce electricity and water costs.  Martí said achieving further growth in 2014 won’t be easy due to last year’s late frosts in Chile, which will probably shrink supply of fruit such as kiwis, apples, prunes and other stone fruit. Chile joins Peru, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina as CMR’s main off-season suppliers.  The group imports from more than 40 countries and exports throughout Europe and to North Africa. Half of its produce comes into Spanish ports, and the other half at CMR’s Rotterdam hub.  Martí said strong sales service combined with good relations with its suppliers is one of the ‘secrets’ to the fifth-generation company’s success, allowing it to maintain exclusivity and continuity deals and often be among the first with specialty produce such as the Brazilian melon, South African grape, Australian mango or Chilean cherry. CMR Group holds regular tastings to teach clients the organoleptic properties of marketed products. While elsewhere in Europe supermarket chains have greatly eroded the retail share of small greengrocers, these neighbourhood stores still thrive in Spain, something Martí sees as an advantage. “It gives us a broader client spread and more possibilities.” Martí said the fruit and vegetable sector had been one of those least affected by the euro crisis and, given it involves staples closely linked to the health and well-being of consumers, he sees expansion ahead in sales. “Our ethos is to sell well, to deliver a good final product to our clients and keep them happy, and in that way keep earning the faith of our suppliers, those who entrust CMR Group with the marketing of their produce.”


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ARC Eurobanan releases Mango Gift Pack under Isla Bonita brand


In time for Valentine’s Day, one of Spain’s leaders in fruit and vegetable import and distribution launched a new format gift pack which met strong demand from both the brand’s main distributors and clients, as well as end consumers. Given some special celebrations demand gifts that are personalized and unique, this gift pack imparts an original and sensual touch in the form of flavor, sweetness and freshness. The easy-to-transport new format of more than 2.5 kg features a design evoking elegance and fine food that reflects the quality of the fruit within. Naturally such a premium product contains only the best, tree-ripened mangoes – an authentic tropical experience for the five senses. Delicious, romantic and healthy Valentine’s Day Gift. The “tree-ripened” mango is characterized by its intense color, penetrating aroma and a firm and creamy flesh that melts in the mouth. But the gift of Isla Bonita Mango is not only one of flavor but of health: it is a good source of vitamins B and C and high in fibre. The exclusive pack comes with a quality seal and ARC Eurobanan hopes it will be enjoyed as an aromatic, sensual, healthy and tasty gift.

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Frutas Niqui expands its business line


Previously focused on apples with more than 50% of their turnover, Niqui is one of the largest distributors of Perlim brands in Spain. Frutas Niqui has increased their portfolio with more trade lines such as asparagus, oranges from the Southern Hemisphere, and kiwi. Thus is that the family business keeps on increasing its turnover between 8% and 10% per year, moving up to 12th place among the leading Spanish fruit importers. “Overall, we diversify our products and sources in order to limit our dependencies and control our risks” says their director Javier Niqui. They import citrus from Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, South Africa and even Chile. Frutas Niqui is also the Madrid distributor for Castang apples (France) and Minho kiwis. Besides, for the last 5 years, they have developed Beso brand, which is already well established, as well as great demanded for their careful selection of asparagus imported from Peru by plane. “