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'For us, investing in R&D and innovation is non-negotiable'

Yaiza de la Campa. Journalist

W.S.F.- Matarromera Group, which includes Emina among other brands, is a shining example of innovation and internationalization. In just 25 years, it has amassed seven wineries, a distillery, a molecular deconstruction plant and a cosmetics line and an area spanning 512 hectares of its own vineyards, 82 hectares of olive groves and more than 300 hectares of agricultural land. What's the secret to its success?

Carlos Moro.- Actually, there is no secret. Our strategy is the same as always: work, work and more work. We undertake projects with humility and a sense of sacrifice. Later you definitely need success in the market to expand your company, but as for secrets in the business world, there are few. At Matarromera, we have always reinvested profits to improve or expand the company, and that strategy has worked out well for us.

W.S.F.- Matarromera Group, which booked revenues of 18.6 million euros in 2012, is essentially a wine-making company. But it is also a group that is decidedly committed to innovation and research. What results have you obtained from focusing on R&D?

C.M.- For us R&D is fundamental and strategic; it's a priority. We maintain that we were the leading winery in the world in terms of investment in R&D and innovation, on which we've spent over 30 million euros. It's part of our DNA, and it has enabled us to break new ground, for example with the creation of EminaZero, an alcohol-free wine, and Esdor, our cosmetics line. These business lines are very demanding but tremendously interesting, and they wouldn't have been possible if we weren't fully committed to research.  

W.S.F.- You've spend at least 1.5 million euros per year since 2005. It's surprising that you have reached such levels of R&D expenditure while also investing in the construction of new wineries. How do you ensure that the situation is sustainable?

C.M.- It's definitely not easy, but we have always tried to go the extra mile. To that end, we have undertaken major high-quality research projects, which put us in a privileged position in terms of expertise in many areas. We work with more than 30 universities and research centers throughout Europe, which provides us with an indispensable flow of training and information. For us, investment in R&D and innovation has been non-negotiable, but it's also essential to have the right size and structure to undertake certain projects.

W.S.F.- Of all of your research projects, your progress in dealcoholized wine is especially interesting. What is that market's current status and how is the product advancing in Spain and in other countries?

C.M.- When we started on this project, we know it would be complicated. We have been working to create market demand for non-alcoholic wine since 2005, and we know that it exists. The number of people in the world who don't drink wine far outstrips the number of regular wine-drinkers. The millions of people that don't drink it, for whatever reason, are creating demand in Spain and in other countries for non-alcoholic wine. It's a product that is slowly making its way into the market. It's complicated because we are practically the only company working on this product; however, we are fully confident that it will be popular and successful in the market, though it will take time.

W.S.F.- Extraction of polyphenols and other organic molecules is another one of Matarromera Group's main research projects, the goal being to produce natural ingredients for developing a high-end cosmetics line. What can you tell us about Esdor?

C.M.- Our cosmetics are simply amazing. We've all heard that a glass of wine a day is good for our health because of its high antioxidant content. We have patented Eminol, a polyphenolic extract whose antioxidant capacity is 30-times higher than that of pure vitamin C. That's the basis of our high-end cosmetics line. We have 15 products on the market (including the recently-launched line, Esdor for Men) and the results have been good.

W.S.F.- Exports are another one of your strong points. Aside from the US, your main market par excellence, on what other areas are you focusing?

C.M.- Two years ago we created a subsidiary in the US, as we consider it a strategic market for the brand, both now and especially in the future. We also have our own office, with a staff of 2, in China. And we are focused on many other countries, such as Mexico and the Philippines, as well as on the European Union and the Middle East... At present, our wines, non-alcoholic wines and cosmetics are available in around 80 countries.

W.S.F.- We expect Arab countries to be good potential customers for non-alcoholic wines. What has your experience been in this area?

C.M.- That area is a very important niche market and, to that end, we are continuously working to move into the region so as to continue to expand. The problems we have are entirely bureaucratic. Non-alcoholic wine is so new that many countries don't even have legislation in place to import such a product. As a result, there are countries where we have been waiting for over a year simply for official approval—a stamp, a paper—to be able to introduce EminaZero.

W.S.F.- What channels in Spain are the most important for the group? The foodservice industry is going through a considerable rough patch. What are you doing to address this situation?

C.M.- Just as we can't focus solely on internationalization (since neglecting Spain would be a serious mistake), the same goes for the domestic market. We have expanded in the last year in both the HoReCa and Food segments. This was possible because of our varied product line, which adapts to different kinds of customers. Market demands and needs have changed, and we cannot turn a blind eye to this trend. To this end, we must continue to strengthen both channels, since they are perfectly complementary.

W.S.F.- What is Matarromera's commitment vis-à-vis the environment and how does your company address the issue of sustainability? What is your most important research and what results have you obtained in the area of viticulture?

C.M.- We have a very ambitious program in place called Sustainable Matarromera on Planet Earth (Matarromera Sostenible en el Planeta Tierra), as a result of which we received the European Environment Award from the European Commission last year. The program comprises many objectives and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption, use renewable energies, etc. For us, sustainability and the environment are extremely important—they are part of our group's identity.

W.S.F.- Olive oil also appears to be important to you. What projects are you working on and what is their current status?

C.M.- We have close to 80 hectares of organic olive groves around the Duero River and in the Toro and Medina del Campo areas in particular. They produce a different kind of olive oil than in southern Spain, but of indisputable quality. Though our production is currently limited, we continue to sell a product that we consider to be a top-flight olive oil.

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25/07/2017