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Wholesale markets of the future

Ioannis Triantafyllis, member of the board of the World Union of Wholesale Markets, recently set out his vision for the future, one in which markets will still be close to the cities they feed while harnessing the latest in green and cold chain technology.

What should the next generation of wholesale markets be like? Ioannis Triantafyllis, member of the board of the World Union of Wholesale Markets, recently set out his vision for the future, one in which markets will still be close to the cities they feed while harnessing the latest in green and cold chain technology. At the Fresh Produce Forum at Fruit Logistica in Berlin in February, his presentation was part of a session titled ‘Wholesale Markets 3.0 – from distribution centre to food hotspot’. Triantafyllis, general manager of the Central Markets and Fishery Organisation in Athens, said the markets of the future should be near cities, or hubs or ports, but not necessarily in them. They must be the location for “functional shops”, with loading and unloading docks and whatever other facilities the wholesalers need, especially the meeting of cold chain requirements. As for the number of merchants, Triantafyllis argued for a critical mass only – not a lot, but also not too few, to avoid any monopolisation. Tomorrow’s markets should also have the latest in sanitation, environmentally-friendly (green) technology, be technologically ready and also socially responsible, he said.

What’s wrong with today’s markets?
Triantafyllis had started his presentation by looking at the many challenges facing the world’s wholesale markets today. Why are wholesale markets so unpopular, he asked. Among the reasons are that they are blamed for unnecessarily occupying urban space, for traffic congestion and waste production, and for being unnecessary in the long term, he said. “But someone has to feed the city. How can you feed the city when far away from it?” Triantafyllis stressed that the New Covent Garden Market is in central London and Rungis, which he said is considered the most successful wholesale market in the world, is just 6 km from the centre of Paris. As for concerns about markets causing traffic congestion, he said the alternative to trucks going into a central market would be for them to be spread about on city roads. Triantafyllis also pointed to other solutions, such as at Mercazaragoza, where it is possible to simultaneously load two 600m-long trains. “One rail equals four trucks so just imagine 40 of them,” he said. As for concerns about food waste, he said he believed the amount occurring was probably less than commonly thought. The Melbourne market, for instance, produces around 5,000 tons of waste annually and achieves a 95% recycling rate. Similarly, Mercabarna has a recycling rate of more than 80%.

The problems facing many markets
Among other challenges facing the wholesale markets in Europe is that most were built more than 40 years ago and so tend to be aging facilities. As they are also often owned by state or municipal authorities and their capital turnover is not so fast, it is difficult to find a private company willing to invest large amounts of money that is going to deliver slow returns, Triantafyllis said. Other problems are that the businesses inside markets are often family owned and run along old business models by people with no specific business education. There is limited use of marketing, technology and traceability, lack of central management and networking, and the level of merchants is not homogenised. Adding to the challenge is the rapidly changing environment within which markets operate, including stricter food laws, and the need to be ‘greener’ and better manage and reduce waste – which Triantafyllis said is the biggest problem – as well as to optimise logistics management, such as by adoption of last mile policies and use of urban consolidation centres (UCCs). The latter are things that are going to come in in our lives and most markets are not ready for them, he said. Quality market management is also essential but in order to make the necessary leap to modernity, many changes are needed than the states or local governments that own the markets need to be willing to allow. Added to that is the need for funding, such as to fix up the many old facilities.


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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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Fruit & veg buyer reception in Perpignan

Saint-Charles Export held a new buyers' reception in Perpignan from November 20-23 to bring together industry professionals interested in making new contacts with possible trading partners in fruit and vegetables.

Saint-Charles Export held a new buyers’ reception from November 20-23 to bring together industry professionals interested in making new contacts with possible trading partners in fruit and vegetables.

With the help of Business France, it gathered a buyer team including an Irish importer, a German wholesaler, a German importer, two Polish buyers and a Slovenian importer for the Balkan countries (Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo, Albania).

This event was sponsored by founding members of the group: the General Council of the Pyrénées-Orientales, the national union of fruit and vegetable importers/exporters, and the association of owners of Saint Charles International, within the framework of the 2016 Saint-Charles Export programme.

In a press release, Saint-Charles International said the buyers were eager to discover the assets of the Pyrénées-Orientales and the East of the Occitanie region, and of the Saint-Charles platform, in terms of fresh fruit and vegetable production, marketing, transport and logistics,

“Their diverse interests and profiles allowed a very good quality of exchanges and all the visited companies were able to put forward their know-how…”

“Indeed, from the German company, which distributes mainly to discounters, to the wholesaler in Düsseldorf, which supplies convenience stores and markets, or the two purchasers from Poland whose mission is to supply 1070 stores, and the Slovenian importer who already bought in Holland, Egypt, Greece etc, and who finally ordered before the end of the trip… all conditions were present to have a successful trip,” it said.

Saint-Charles Export director Cyril Gornes had developed an intensive program with 20 appointments. The meetings took place at various firms and farms, with visits to:

  • Saint-Charles international trading companies, mostly specialised in Spanish and Moroccan origins,
  • Transport and logistics companies,
  • French salad and stone fruit producers, with visits to salad greenhouses and packing stations,
  • French apple and pear growers, approved by the Pink Lady brand,
  • A variety research and trading centre specialising in apricots,
  • An international trading company focused on Corsican and Tunisian products.

“The buyers had access to an extremely varied product offer, and a range of prices that could interest all the different company profiles of the group.

“From citrus fruit to dates and tomatoes, not to mention transport solutions, questions were numerous during those three days throughout the region.

Some of the companies visited have already received requests for quotations on their products,” Saint-Charles International said.

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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

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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Saint Charles International a key hub

F rance imports nearly €4.9 billion worth of fruit and vegetables, 30% of which transit through Saint Charles International.

Nearly a third of France’s fruit and vegetable imports (from Europe and other countries), and a quarter of its exports, move through Saint Charles International.

France imports nearly €4.9 billion worth of fruit and vegetables, 30% of which transit through Saint Charles. This marketing, transport and logistics platform in Perpignan also handles nearly a quarter of France’s €2.7 billion worth of exports. Spain is still the foremost partner: 971,600 tons imported in 2015, accounting for 60% of the total by volume. Morocco, in second place, supplied 411,565 tons, nearly 25% of the volume transiting through Saint Charles. French products amounting to 132,922 tons, mainly from the local region, were also distributed via the platform in 2015. Lastly, 104,054 tons from non-EU countries cleared customs at Saint Charles. In reality, much higher volumes of products from non-EU countries are marketed through this platform, but they are difficult to follow statistically because a large proportion enter the EU through other European countries.

A platform that looks to the future and is doubling its exports

Saint Charles International is pursuing innovation and prospection initiatives and multiplying its logistics solutions in order to strengthen its leadership. The volumes it exports have doubled in 10 years and are now around 700,000 tons. In partnership with the authorities, a price reporting system has been implemented to monitor tomato imports from Morocco, as provided for in the special import regime for this product. “Import prices and volumes are reported daily by the companies” in order to support the mission of the market news network, said communications manager Anne Florin. A project to expand Saint Charles International into the Orline ZAC development zone between Saint Charles and the motorway is also under study.

More combined transport

Perpignan and its region offer a number of rail transport possibilities: conventional, piggyback and combined road/rail transport. Combined transport is now booming, with containers loaded daily onto wagons at the Saint Charles rail terminal. One of the main destinations is Valenton (in southern Paris), for delivery to the Rungis area. A new line to Rotterdam will be operating from 15th March, with five departures a week. The 2-day journey is comparable to the time it takes by road.

The port of Antwerp will also be served directly. In addition, Saint Charles is part of a working group called Clyma (Connexion Lyon-Madrid). The first stage of this European programme analysed the bottlenecks on the Madrid-Lyons axis that need to be eliminated in order to move towards facilitating modal transfers, the development of multiclient freight trains from Saragossa to Germany, and advancing the ‘green corridor’ concept as a whole.

This stocktaking exercise has led to the partners proposing specific measures, classified into priorities 1 to 3, which will enable real progress to be made. The piggyback service is operated by the Lorry Rail company at Le Boulou (between Perpignan and the Spanish border). It consists of loading freight trailers onto special platform wagons. Lorry Rail delivers them direct to Duisbourg (Germany). A project for an additional line to Calais is under study for the longer term, for deliveries to the United Kingdom. By sea, Port-Vendres plans to retrofit the Dezoums quay so that taller shipping from overseas can berth there. Over 300,000 tons a year are imported through this port, particularly from West Africa and Morocco.

Combined road/rail transport a reality

The rail terminal at Saint Charles provides a competitive road/rail transport service for companies based at Perpignan and in the neighbouring regions of Barcelona, Toulouse and Montpellier. The terminal, built in 1985, has been extended from 370 to 750 m in length so that it can take trains of the maximum length allowed in France. This investment has cost €40 million. The road/rail container traffic using the terminal has almost doubled as a result, increasing to 20,000 containers a year, with nearly 50 trains a week. The terminal is mainly publicly-funded, as its break-even point is 30,000 containers a year. It is managed by a semipublic company: 38% of the capital is owned by the province, 35% by the city of Perpignan, 5% by the Chamber of Commerce, 10% by the operator Novatrans, 2% by Froid Combi and 5% by the port of Barcelona.

The volume of fruit and vegetables shipped through this terminal is still small and 75% of the containers loaded there come from Asia. “Our trains are not yet sufficiently regular and punctual to interest the Saint Charles operators.” Compared to Rotterdam or Antwerp, the ports of southern Europe save 2 to 3 days’ sea journey for goods passing through the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean. Rail links for goods from Spain also take some of the traffic off the overcrowded roads: over 10,000 lorries on average pass through Le Perthus, while one train can carry 40 to 50 containers.


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Caab (Bologna) moving to a new site

Caab, the Bologna Agri-Food Centre, is the venue for the sale of fruit and vegetables grown in the area to nearly 2,000 wholesaler and retailer clients through three commodity exchanges.

Caab, the Bologna Agri-Food Centre, where every day 19 wholesalers, 5 cooperatives (representing 290 companies) and 100 farming businesses sell all the fruit and vegetables grown in the area to nearly 2,000 wholesaler and retailer clients through three commodity exchanges, is undertaking a major change. It is on the point of moving to a new market area next to its current site (which will be occupied by a new theme park revolving around the Italian agri-food sector).

Commercial manager Duccio Caccioni said the new site will be able to accommodate all Caab’s current occupants, but in less space, as there will be cantilevered loading bays side-by-side with traditional ground-level loading.

“It will be a much more compact market and the introduction of state-of-the-art technology will guarantee optimum cold chain preservation, optimum work safety and fire fighting solutions and, thanks to our photovoltaic plant, which will be increased from its current surface area of 80,000 m² to 100,000 m² with a power  of 11 MW, making it the most powerful in Europe, self-sufficiency from the energy point of view. We expect this operation to bring logistics savings of 30-35%,” Caccioni said.

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The evolution of wholesale markets into food logistics platforms

World Union of Wholesale Markets chairman Manuel Estrada-Nora explains why terms such as ‘food complex’ and ‘food logistics platform’ better define what a modern wholesale market is.

In this interview, World Union of Wholesale Markets chairman Manuel Estrada-Nora explains why modern wholesale markets now fall into the wider concept of a food logistics platform.

How are value-added services making wholesale markets more competitive?

Many of the European wholesale markets today are what we used to call ‘3rd generation markets’. They go beyond the mere sale and purchase of fresh food. Wholesalers have the space and facilities to develop a number of activities of their business: washing, sorting, grading, cutting, packaging, ripening, storage and cold-storage, management of orders, delivery, etc. These kinds of activities – product segmentation, in short – are increasingly important at wholesale markets, as wholesalers serve not only the traditional small retailers or retail markets, but also chains of hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and hypermarkets. This is why terms such as “food complex” and “food logistics platform” better define what a modern wholesale market is. In some wholesale markets, the volume of fruits and vegetables delivered from such complementary facilities either equals or exceeds the amount traded at the pavilions for wholesaling (e.g. Mercabarna, Rungis-Paris and Padova and other Northern Italian markets, especially for exports.

How strong is food security and traceability at wholesale markets today?

European wholesale markets are a benchmark for food security and food product traceability. Food hygiene is a priority for the owners and managers of wholesale markets. The professionalism of the producers and wholesalers is nowadays a key factor of food security in our wholesale markets. Luckily, the wholesale sector of fresh products is a mature and very competitive one which sets very high quality standards for itself. The maintenance of a “brand” in fresh products and the requirements of certification also impose quality requirements on wholesale traders, importers and exporters which are sometimes even stricter than official regulations.
Not only the hygiene of the products but the hygiene of the facilities, warehouses and areas of common use is a key focus for wholesale market managers. In this context, the WUWM has developed a “Community Guide to Good Hygienic Practices”, adopted by the European Commission in late 2009 as support for the sector. In addition, unannounced official inspections of wholesale markets occur at the wholesalers’ stalls: their commercial documentation is verified and samples of their products taken for analysis. In cases of food safety alerts, wholesale markets act as an efficient and rapid point of investigation and action ensuring an efficient traceability process, determining the origin of the problem and limiting the damage.

What major issues related to fruit & vegetable are being dealt with by the WUWM?

There are a number of issues highly relevant for wholesale market managers in order to improve the service rendered to the traders: green energies, food waste and food losses reduction, waste recycling, excellence in hygiene, improvement in management models, co-operation projects with wholesalers, among others. There is a big range of issues of social relevance: the support markets lend to local farmers, public education on healthy eating, support to small and medium local/regional companies, and the impact of climate change on food markets, all of them closely related with the successes and challenges facing wholesale markets worldwide.

What can you tell us about renovation in wholesale markets?

Wholesale markets in developing countries are making very big efforts to improve their standards. And in fact, in some aspects of this management they demonstrate excellence in performance. In Mexico, Brazil and China, for instance, large investments are underway in wholesale market development.
The European wholesale market sector is more mature so many markets have been partially, or even completely, modernised and refurbished. Some have had to be relocated over the years, as they became surrounded by new urban developments. This is why you may find brand new and modern “old” wholesale markets in England, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Poland, as well as in many other countries. You also have to bear in mind that European regulation is increasingly strict in relation to hygiene, work safety, transportation and traffic, waste management, energy efficiency, etc. Wholesale market managers are responsible for these aspects, which requires the continuous update of certain infrastructures.

How do wholesale markets differ between ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ economies?

Wholesale markets are often associated with the idea of local food, local agriculture or “Km 0” production and this is correct, both for developed and developing economies. The importance of this is enormous from a socioeconomic and sustainable agriculture point of view.
The difference, in my opinion, is that in developed economies, like Europe, wholesale markets additionally absorb a large share of imported fresh products to satisfy the demand of products from other regions of the planet and of national products when off-season. Even in large producer and exporter countries, such as in southern Europe, the import of fresh fruit and vegetables via wholesale markets may represent 50% of the total.

What is happening with the ‘Love Your Local Market’ (LYLM) campaign?

‘Love Your Local Market’ was very successful in 2015, with the participation of over 2,000 food markets from 16 countries. This global campaign is effective in engendering public recognition of the role and importance of traditional markets throughout Europe and the world. I want to thank the UK WUWM member NABMA, the National Association of British Market Authorities, which in 2014 freely offered us the concept and their expertise gained from the original national campaign run in England some four years ago, so that we could run it globally and encourage markets everywhere to participate in what has now become the biggest market celebration ever seen. In 2016, we hope to further expand the campaign, with increased participation in Asia and Latin-America.

What else was a highlight in 2015 or on the agenda for 2016?

Looking back over 2015, we also enjoyed two highly interesting conferences, the first in Budapest (Hungary) in May and the other in Campinas (Sao Paulo, Brazil) in September. We also signed a formal collaboration agreement with the UN FAO which has began to show mutual benefits.
Our next international conference will be held in Lublin, Poland, in May. After the change of political system at the end of last century, Poland very quickly established an efficient network of wholesale markets throughout the country. We want to focus on the specific situation of wholesale, retail and farmers markets in Eastern Europe and in the former Soviet countries. We will also pay attention to flower markets, an essential component of many food markets worldwide.

World Union of Wholesale Markets

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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.

Photo courtesy of

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Mercabarna is modernising its facilities and improving air and sea connections

Fruit and vegetable exports from Mercabarna rose by 9% in the first half of 2015 compared with the same period in 2014, according to data from the Catalan market.

Fruit and vegetable exports from Mercabarna rose by 9% in the first half of 2015 compared with the same period in 2014, according to data from the Catalan market. Indeed, in 2014 the companies in Mercabarna’s horticultural sector sold 1.7 million tons (between the Central Market and the Complementary Activities Zone).

A successful “Mercabarna Export” cluster

The market hub in Barcelona attributes the export boom in the first half of 2015 to promotion by the Mercabarna Export cluster and presence in international fairs like Fruit Attraction and Fruit Logística, which have made Mercabarna a benchmark for suppliers around Europe. The market currently has business relationships with all corners of Europe. In 2015, the cluster has carried out studies to determine the feasibility of exporting to Algeria, the Arab Emirates and Ireland, where they have carried out direct missions that will be bolstered in 2016 “for importers interested in learning about Mercabarna,” said Josep Tejedo, director general of Mercabarna. Another relevant fact is that more and more shoppers are going directly to buy at the market, mainly from France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Poland and Ireland. “The ease of management, storage and transportation as well as the range, freshness and quality of the produce, allow for convenient and efficient purchases,” said Josep Tejedo.

Sea and air connections to Paris, Germany and Dubai to improve

Transportation has also become a significant aim for the Mercabarna Export cluster, which supports the rail terminal for lorries that is to be completed in 2019 on land owned by the Port of Barcelona, 2 km from Mercabarna. The first lines to be launched will be Barcelona-Paris and Barcelona-Germany. “This means of transport will lead to improved logistics efficiency and a reduction of 10% in the cost compared to road transport, along with a significant decrease in environmental impact,” said the general manager of Mercabarna. As for air transport, improvements have been made in the range and price of flights to the United Arab Emirates. In addition, working groups have been created involving large South American exporters and fruit importers from Mercabarna to optimize routes and improve logistics prices. Mercabarna has also launched the Trends Observatory in 2015 to present new business opportunities for companies located in their food hub. These include an increase in local products in the market, linked to the growing awareness about zero kilometre food and slow food.

Espai Food and Food Trade Center as of 2016

Another project in the works, which will be ready later this year or early in 2016, is the Food Trade Center, a space for the increasingly numerous foreign buyers who regularly visit these markets to supply other countries. This space will have all the services these purchasers may need for their activities, such as telecommunications, offices, meeting rooms, etc. There are also plans to launch Espai Food in 2016, an area with all the infrastructures and services necessary for Mercabarna’s companies to be able to give presentations for their products, present new recipes, tastings, etc. Finally, it is worth noting that Mercabarna intends to go a step further in its policy against wasting food. To do so, it has commissioned the Autonomous University of Barcelona to carry out a study—to be completed in late 2015—that will classify the kinds of food losses caused by the activities of all the operators that come to Mercabarna every day, and will suggest ways to reduce them. Another ongoing challenge is the modernisation of Mercabarna’s complex, which looks set to be finished in 2020. 


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Mercabarna fun run & open day a resounding success

The inaugural Mercabarna fun run attracted more than 3,000 people to Barcelona’s wholesale market on Sunday. Along with the race itself - in which 1,520 runners participated – there were a range of activities related to fresh food and designed to showcase the key role of the Mercabarna food complex, one of largest in Europe.

The inaugural Mercabarna fun run attracted more than 3,000 people to Barcelona’s wholesale market on Sunday. Along with the race itself – in which 1,520 runners participated – there were a range of activities related to fresh food and designed to showcase the key role of the Mercabarna food complex, one of the largest in Europe.

Runners passing through the Central Fish Market


Of the runners, 770 covered 5 km and 750 a 10 km route. Starting at 11am, the race took them through the central fruit and vegetables and fish markets.Though closed on a Sunday, some fruit and vegetable wholesaler stalls displayed produce to provide a taste of a typical day at the market.

And though no fish was on sale in the central fish market, loudspeakers reproduced the din usually found there when 2,000 or so buyers and sellers gather in the wee hours.

Runners collecting their numbers in one of the 7 buildings forming the Central Fruit and Vegetable Market

After the race, runners and their companions tucked into a breakfast based on sardines, sausage and fruit.

In a press release, the market authority said the visitors had been surprised at just how big the market is. Covering 900,000 m2, it shifts 2 million tons of fresh produce a year.