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Spain’s Minister of Agriculture visits Mercabarna

Luis Planas, Spain’s Minister of Agriculture, visits Mercabarna © Mercabarna

© Mercabarna

 

The Minister of Agriculture, Luis Planas, visited Mercabarna to learn about the operation of the food park, its main projects, the Central Market for Fruits and Vegetables and the recently opened Biomarket. During the meeting with the media, the Minister of Agriculture highlighted the role of Mercabarna and the rest of the Spanish markets as essential services, thanks to which the food supply is being guaranteed during the health crisis that we are suffering. “Spanish markets account for 3,000 agrifood companies and provide food for 30 million consumers, and are essential at this time,” he said.

Planas also spoke about the organic sector, explaining that Spain is currently the first country in Europe in terms of organic agricultural production area – 9.3% of the Spanish usable agricultural area – and that the goal is to reach 25% by 2030. “For this reason promoting food distribution through Mercabarna’s Biomarket is very important for our country,” said Planas.

The meeting with the media highlighted the importance of Mercabarna as the major agri-food hub in the Mediterranean, both industrially and economically.

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Chilean produce promoted in Mercamadrid and Mercabarna

Chilean produce promoted in Mercamadrid and Mercabarna
Photo:ProChile

ProChile has launched a campaign titled “Chile Keeps On Going for You” across the world to transmit Chile’s commitment to the global supply chain and its role as an exporter of world-class food. A spin-off from this work is a campaign at Spain’s two main wholesale markets – Mercamadrid and Mercabarna – called “Chile, origin of quality”, which highlights the commitment to traceability, safety, quality, diversity, ecological production and sustainability of the Chilean agri-food sector. The campaign is aimed at strengthening the image of the sector and will run between December 1 and 31, 2020.

According to a press release by ProChile: “We work daily to maintain food quality standards and maintain ourselves as a provider of healthy foods. This is demonstrated by the export figures, becoming the leading exporter of fresh fruit in the southern hemisphere and becoming the world’s leading exporter of fresh cherries and plums, second in grapes and blueberries and third in shelled nuts, raisins. Very relevant for the Spanish market are the shipments of avocados, walnuts with and without shell, kiwis and apples; followed by a long and varied list of references that include blueberries, nectarines, pears, raisins, dehydrated plum, among others.”

The initiative includes raising awareness of a new contact channel to identify suppliers from Chile, such as One Click Import.

 

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Jordi Valls appointed general manager of Mercabarna 

Jordi Valls appointed general manager of Mercabarna 

 

The Mercabarna Board of Directors – made up of representatives of the Barcelona City Council, the national public company Mercasa and the Government of Catalonia – has today appointed Jordi Valls Riera as the new General Manager of Mercabarna, replacing Josep Tejedo, who has been leading the management of the entity for the last 8 years (April 2012-September 2020).

Born in Manresa and graduated in law from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, ​​Jordi Valls has combined his professional career between the public and private sectors. He was Mayor of Manresa (1995-2006), Minister of Labour and Industry (2006) and President of the Barcelona Port Authority (2007-2011). Subsequently, he was appointed CEO of the Suez Group in Mexico. Currently, he served as general director of North Latin America in this company.

Jordi Valls, who will assume the general management of Mercabarna as of today, replaces Josep Tejedo, who announced his departure from the company in July, to dedicate himself to new professional projects linked to the world of consulting. During the more than 8 years that Tejedo has been at the helm of Mercabarna, the wholesale market has positioned itself as the main food hub in the Mediterranean and one of the most important export markets in Europe.

The former CEO has also worked to promote training, innovation, food start-ups, and to modernize Mercabarna’s infrastructures, especially the central markets for fruit and vegetables and fish, some of which had not been renovated since the beginning.

With the stage that begins with Valls, one of the main objectives will be to increase the services to the companies of the enclosure so that they enhance their competitiveness through the study of trends, the detection of new business opportunities, the promotion of innovation and, especially, investment in the digitization of the infrastructures of the food hall.

Another of the key axes will be the World Capital of Sustainable Food in Barcelona to be held in 2021 and in which Mercabarna will play a notable role. Along these lines, the new Biomarket will open in November, the first wholesale market for organic food in Spain, and the promotion of local products and healthy habits among the child population will continue.

Mercabarna will also focus, among others, on projects to combat food waste, such as the new UPC-Mercabarna Chair, the expansion of collaboration with the Food Bank or the launch of the Center for Food Use.

 

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T-Systems and Mercabarna create app to deliver food to groups in need during COVID-19 crisis

T-Systems and Mercabarna create app to deliver food to groups in need during COVID-19 crisis

T-Systems, a digital services subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom and Mercabarna, Barcelona’s wholesale market, two leading European companies in the technology and fresh food sector, respectively, have joined forces, together with other partners, to create an app (https://t-mercabarnasolidaria.com) that will help entities and groups in need during the COVID-19 crisis. T-Systems provides the technology, while Mercabarna, and the companies within the market, supply fresh food and logistics and transport capacity.

A 24h hackathon

Among the initiatives already undertaken to help during the current health crisis, T-Systems and Mercabarna have organised a hackathon (meeting of programmers whose objective is the collaborative development of software) to develop a fully operational application that optimises the distribution of fresh food to needy groups.

During 24 hours of uninterrupted programming, a team of 20 T-Systems experts, with the collaboration of Mercabarna executives, created a solidarity marketplace that connects the surpluses from wholesale companies with the demand from social entities and the logistics company responsible for transporting food to the destination.

The project partners

The project is supported by two wholesale Mercabarna companies specialised in fruits and vegetables (Frutas Diego Martínez and Hermanos Fernández), as well as a logistics operator, also based in the wholesale market (TAE Transports).

The first social entity to benefit from this new application will be the Red Cross of Catalonia (which has 90 distribution points distributed throughout Catalonia), but it is planned to gradually incorporate new social entities into the project.

This innovative initiative adds to the work that Mercabarna’s wholesale companies have been carrying out on a regular basis, with their contribution of more than 100,000kg per month of fruit and vegetables through the Food Bank, which are distributed to 35,000 people in need. 

The director general of Mercabarna, Josep Tejedo, said, “Mercabarna once again demonstrates its proactivity and solidarity to meet the needs of the most vulnerable during this health crisis and to continue to guarantee the supply of fresh food to the population at the same time.”

T-Systems has contributed its technological and innovative capacity. Osmar Polo, general director of T-Systems Iberia, said, “The current crisis of COVID-19 is making clear the importance of technology to provide collaborative solutions and, at T-Systems, we wanted to offer our knowledge and technological capacity to help improve as far as possible the difficult situation that vulnerable groups are experiencing. We are confident that we will get out of this crisis soon, and we believe that technology will help us to do so”. 

 

Technology at the service of society

The application, developed in just 24 hours by the team of volunteer professionals at T-Systems, allows non-profit organisations to access a bank of food products available in Mercabarna and request a delivery based on a catalogue established by the wholesalers. In addition, it allows you to create profiles by type of company (wholesalers, carriers or associations), and includes statistics on orders and delivery times, as well as an order traceability system, with real-time tracking by state and location.

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Applause for Mercabarna workers for guaranteeing food supply

Mercabarna publishes 2nd Sustainability Report

Tributes have been paid by Spain’s police divisions to the Mercabarna workers for the work they are doing to guarantee the food supply during these days of confinement of the population, due to the state of alarm by Covid19. This act of recognition has consisted of the presence of a representation of the different bodies with their police vehicles at the entrances of two of the pavilions of the Central Market of Fruits and Vegetables of Mercabarna, where the agents have met with representatives of the direction of Mercabarna and the wholesale associations. They have dedicated a few minutes of applause to the more than 7,500 Mercabarna workers.

Mercabarna, essential service
and fundamental axis of the agri-food sector

Mercabarna is a “food city” that boils 24 hours a day with a clear objective: to guarantee the supply of fresh food to the citizens of Catalonia. In its 90 hectares (about 90 soccer fields), there are 700 wholesale companies specialized in the production, trade and distribution of fresh food products. In Mercabarna there are the central markets for fruit and vegetables, fish and seafood and flowers and plants, and a slaughterhouse.

Every day 23,000 professionals are concentrated in this city, among the 7,500 workers from the wholesale companies located in Mercabarna and the rest who come to provide themselves with food, which we will later find in municipal markets, retail stores, small and medium-sized supermarkets and restaurants.

Mercabarna is one of the main European markets and a fundamental axis for the Catalan and Spanish agri-food sector. With 2 million tons of fresh produce traded annually, this large market serves 10 million consumers.

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Mercabarna publishes 2nd Sustainability Report

Mercabarna publishes 2nd Sustainability Report

The “food city” ratifies its commitment to guarantee economic, environmental and social sustainability.

Mercabarna continues to deepen its most social commitments and has published for the second consecutive year a Sustainability Report. The report analyses the impact of the activity of the central food market on its economic, social and environmental environment. This makes Mercabarna a pioneer among Spanish wholesale markets for its development based on sustainability criteria.

In drawing up the report, Mercabarna followed the indicators established by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) – the reference institution in terms of sustainability reports endorsed by the United Nations (UN). This transparency exercise details Mercabarna’s strategic objectives, the actions that are carried out and the challenges presented, which are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN 2030 Agenda.

In accordance with the SDGs, Mercabarna’s main corporate social responsibility actions have been articulated in terms of six aspects: Competitiveness and Employment, Fight against food waste, Healthy food, Environmental responsibility and Solidarity partnerships.

Labour market: 74% of the trained students find work

In 2018, Mercabarna gave 17 occupational training courses (butchery, fishmonger, greengrocer, florist, international trade, storekeeper and forklift) in which 210 unemployed people participated. The index of labour insertion of these courses, according to the data provided by the Catalan Employment Service of Catalonia stood at 74%.

To train the workers of the 800 companies in the food court, Mercabarna organised 71 continuous education courses in which 720 professionals took part. The courses were for butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers, charcuterie, occupational risk prevention, information technology, hygiene and handling of foods and languages, among others.

As for the ‘Mercabarna Grants’ occupational program (grants to companies for the hiring of unemployed people or recent graduates, equivalent to the minimum inter-professional salary for 6 months), a total of 83 scholarships have been awarded since the beginning of the program. 4 years. 75% of the scholarship holders have continued working in the companies where they did the internship during the scholarship period, once this one is over.

Fight against waste: 1.3 million tons of food for 21,000 people

Mercabarna and the Food Bank have collaborated since 2002 so that consumable but non-marketable food reaches people in need. For this reason, in 2018, Mercabarna Food Bank distributed 1,275,000 tons of fruit and vegetables among 67 social entities, which were distributed among some 21,000 vulnerable people in Barcelona and its metropolitan area.

Promotion of a healthy diet among 12,800 children

Mercabarna promotes healthy habits and respect for the environment among children, especially among schoolchildren who participate in their educational campaigns as well as among their schools and families. During the 2017-2018 school year, 12,300 children participated in the educational programmes: ‘5 a Day’, ‘Grow with the Fish’ and ‘Flowers and Plants Every Day’.

In addition, for 3 years, Mercabarna has been organising the ‘Refresh with 5 a Day’ summer camp, aimed at vulnerable children from social organisations in Barcelona and its metropolitan area. In 2018, 467 children and 96 monitors participated in this activity.

Respect for the Environment: 76% of all waste is recycled

In 2018, a record 76% of the waste generated by the activity of the 700 companies located in Mercabarna was recycled.

Mercabarna supports the social initiatives of 29 solidarity organizations

Mercabarna has supported the initiatives of 29 social entities that share its solidarity objectives. This support has been provided through the organisation of occupational training courses and sporting events; donation of food and financial contributions.

Economic Responsibility: €10.4 million

Mercabarna carries out the responsible management of its economic resources to guarantee growth, incorporating sustainability issues as a vector of success. In 2018, the food market reached a profit figure before taxes of €10,419,618.

Main social responsibility projects

In terms of the abovementioned aspects, Mercabarna carried out various initiatives in 2018: Inauguration of the Aula del Fresco; the organisation of the Congress of the World Union of Wholesale Markets with the slogan ‘The Future Markets: Efficient and Responsible’; first Summer University, focused on ‘Sustainability in the Food Chain’; and the start of the construction of the Biomarket, the first wholesale market and organic agricultural cooperatives of Spain.

 

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Mercabarna implementing plan to cut food waste

Among the steps being taken to cut waste at Mercabarna are the design of a new waste treatment system for the Central Fruit and Vegetable Market, which will start as a pilot scheme early this year.

Mercabarna has developed a plan to reduce the amount of food waste at the market, which is currently estimated at about 9,400 tons a year.

In a press release, Barcelona’s wholesale market said among the steps being taken to cut waste are the design of a new waste treatment system for the Central Fruit and Vegetable Market, which will start as a pilot scheme early this year.

It also said work underway to modernise the market includes insulating point-of-sale areas as a way to provide better condition for preserving fresh produce.

In addition, a Centre for Food Use is being set up in order to optimise the selection of food fit for sale and to enable its distribution among the social organisations that help people with few resources.

And there will be environmental education campaigns to raise awareness among market wholesalers and employees, and the 6,000 children who visit Mercabarna every year as part of the “5 a day” campaign.

Its ‘Strategic Plan for Food Use’ also sets out other measures it will take to reduce food waste, improve waste treatment and promote responsible consumption.

Image (via Mercabarna): the signatories of the manifesto for the reduction of food waste

The project kicked off with the signing of the “Manifesto for the reduction of food waste” by Mercabarna, the concessionary business association (Assocome) and the main wholesale syndicates for fruit and vegetables (AGEM) and fish (GMP).

The agreement sets out their clear commitment to “handling food more efficiently and making the supply chain more sustainable and responsible.”

The plan draws on research that suggested about 0.5% of the 2 million tons of food sold every year at Mercabarna is wasted.

“Even though this figure is well below that of other markets, shopping centres and homes, it still means that 9,400 tons of food does not reach the consumer,” the release says.

Main image (top) via Mercabarna

Learn more about Mercabarna in this new video:

“Discover Mercabarna, a ‘food city’ with more than 700 companies working to ensure the supply of fresh foods to over 10 million consumers.”

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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.”  

Photo courtesy of http://www.mercabarna.es/sectors-activitat/fruites-i-hortalisses/en_index/

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

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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.

CVA

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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