Ricardo Migueláñez. Agricultural Engineer
Anecoop, a group of cooperatives whose activities range from research into variety improvements through to product delivery at points of sale, was at the latest edition of Fruit Attraction, and Wikispanishfood.com had the chance to talk with Juan Vicente Safont, President of Anecoop, about expectations for the future.
Wikispanishfood.com.- What new projects are in store for Anecoop in the near future?
Juan Vicente Safont.- Though it may seem like a challenge to talk about new ideas after 38 years, Anecoop does have projects in the pipeline: we're working on an Integration plan to be rolled out in the next five years.
Moreover, our Strategic Plan concludes this year, and the Extraordinary General Meeting will most likely approve a new one next month. Going forward, we will call it the Integration Plan, because we believe the agri-food sector needs unification. Based on this commitment, we hope to implement more reliable programs so as to provide greater service; that's what Spanish fruits and vegetables must focus on: we have quality, but we have to be able to provide the product when and where the customer wants it.
As things stand, each cooperative believes it's the best, in both corporate and management terms; that's why greater integration is needed, because the first-tier cooperatives in other countries, such as France, are as important as a second-tier cooperative here in Spain.
W.S.F.- What new business projects are you working on?
J.V.S.- In terms of business, we aim to continue growing, although we already have very high volumes. This year we increased volume by 10% and revenues by 16%, and we are going to work to reinforce those figures in the coming months and to address pending issues with a view to making improvements. We will try to add value to tomatoes and, weather permitting, start afresh with strawberries, which had a difficult year due to adverse weather.
W.S.F.- What would Anecoop prefer: to strengthen its position in companies where it already operates or to enter new markets?
J.V.S.- Honestly, we can do both at the same time as we believe they are complimentary. It's important to note the Anecoop has been an international company since day one: when it was founded, it was decided that it should focus primarily on exports. You could almost say that Spain is our third-biggest client!
Anecoop doesn't believe it has to choose; we believe in the need to reinforce relations with other companies, such as organic foods or more exotic product lines, while also opening new sales channels in other countries.
W.S.F.- What are your target countries?
J.V.S.- Three years ago we created a company in Moscow called Agrikoop. It is already turning a profit with acceptable volumes; however, considering the potential in Russia, we still have a long road ahead of us.
Six months ago we opened a subsidiary in China called Anecoop Asia. Chinese consumers appreciate authentic products, since there are so many copies over there and, therefore, they are wary. First we focused on wine, but we are planning to sell citrus and other fruits and also vegetables in the future.
As a sector, there's scope for growth in America in the clementine segment. That's certainly an issue that must be addressed by Spain's citrus fruit sector, since volume has peaked at 50 or 60 thousand tons, and we must consider the potential in that market. We'll wait and see what happens with current negotiations.
This is all compatible with the European market, as any sale of fruit to the US or to Russia helps ease congestion in Europe and allows for a stronger position in terms of internationalization.
W.S.F.- What is your impression of Fruit Attraction over the last five years?
J.V.S.- It is a very important international fair, and it's still growing. In Europe, we have the event in Berlin and the one in Madrid. The one in Berlin is solid, though it didn't exceed last year's fair in terms of numbers. The figures are the same, for both exhibitors and visitors. However, Fruit Attraction is growing and we believe it already has international prestige for the sector. It should go one step further and invite companies from the US and Canada.