Jordi Estrada, Assistant Sales Director at Primaflor, talks with Wikispanishfood.com about the company's development during its more than 30-year history.
Verónica Martos. Journalist @martosveronica
Wikispanishfood.com.- Primaflor has over three decades of experience in the fruit and vegetable sector. How was the brand evolved over time?
Jordi Estrada.- Primaflor has always evolved in favor of new market trends, which have distinguished our company over the years. We began with the cut flower business and, in our search for complimentary areas to bring down logistics costs, we started producing and selling iceberg lettuce for foreign markets, thus creating a new sales area for the company. More than seven years ago, leveraging our success in the fields with more than 5,000 hectares of farmland, the company decided to focus on the prepared salad segment, which today yields around 10.5 million kilos and roughly 32 million euros in revenues. But we didn't stop there. These days we aim to be an agri-food company since, after all, we are FARMERS, and to develop new business lines with prepared foods, soups, creams... always furthering innovation.
WSF.- There have been notable market swings over the years. What specific actions has the company taken to adapt to consumers' needs?
J.E.- Primaflor always endeavors to adapt to consumer needs, now more than ever. We are currently working to meet those needs, while guaranteeing quality and service. Specifically, together with our partners (distribution chains), we are focusing on the store brand business, since it currently represents around 87% and it's the segment where consumers are looking for a deal.
WSF.- During these highly complicated times for consumer spending, what is Primaflor doing to address the economic situation? How has the company been affected financially?
J.E.- Primaflor's business is geographically diversified (we export to more than 14 countries), which provides sufficient flexibility so that our financial situation is not excessively impacted. However, it's worth noting that 70% of the business is based on fresh products, especially iceberg lettuce (more than 150 million heads/year), and diverse factors (weather, production...) made this a satisfactory year for Primaflor.
WSF.- Exports are extremely important for food companies. Broadly speaking, agri-food sector exports expanded by 9.4% in 2012. How does Primaflor view the challenges posed by the foreign market? Are you implementing specific actions to boost exports, in terms of volume and value?
J.E.- Exports account for 50% of our company's total revenues and amounted to around 123 million euros this last season. Nevertheless, the international sales department continues to open new markets, focusing especially on Russia and the Arab Emirates.
WSF.- In recent years, you have committed notable investment towards modernizing production. What are the latest advances in this area? What percentage of the total is allocated to R&D and innovation?
J.E.- We have been improving our field production systems to enhance efficiency in both output and irrigation. Our production zone is in an area with scant water, and management of this situation must favor the sustainability of natural resources.
We've also invested in the modernization of our fresh food storage facilities, adding new vacuum cooling systems. The goal is to enhance product freshness, as our lettuce is increasingly being shipped greater distances. We have also improved production lines in the salad factory.
WSF.- What are the most innovative products you have launched recently? What other unique products can we expect for the rest of the year?
J.E.- In the last few months, we launched Toques de Ajo, a new, easier way of eating garlic at home without staining or smelling of it; Gazpacho, with the highest vegetable content on the market and using extra virgin olive oil as the only other ingredient; and Verduras de la Huerta, green beans with potatoes and carrots for consumers who want to eat healthy but are short on time. We also re-launched our Bowls category with the New York Salad, which enables consumers to eat a salad anywhere and for a reasonable price.
In the coming months, we are going to launch a fresh tomato-based sauce called Salsa Mexicana, for dipping, fajitas, spaghetti... It goes with just about anything.
As for our other new products, you'll have to wait and see.
WSF.- Primaflor's newest products come in smaller, individual-sized portions. Why are you focusing on this format? What is your objective for these types of products?
J.E.- Family size is on the decline in Spain; accordingly, we are adapting to our consumers' new habits by offering single-size formats.