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'The soft drink sector is a driver of Spain's economy'

Ricardo Miguelañez, Agricultural Engineer. @rmiguelanez

The Spanish Soft Drink Association (Anfabra), created in 1977, represents the soft drink sector in Spain. Wikispanishfood.com interviews its general director, Josep Puxeu, who undertook the post in 2012. Puxeu has a lengthy professional track record in both the private and public sectors.

According to Canadean, the soft drink market remained stable in 2014, with a volume of 4.3 billion liters. It's also worth noting that the consumption trend in terms of categories has changed in the last decade, with tonics and sports, tea- and energy-based drinks performing well. Additionally, non-carbonated beverages have been gaining ground for over a decade, and now account for 20% of the total, compared with 8% in 2004.

After maintaining relative stability during the crisis in terms of volume although with a loss in value due to slides in sales to the hospitality sector, soft drink production tumbled in 2013 (-3%) and improved in year-on-year terms in 2014. This was attributable to the recovery in consumption, especially outside of the home, and despite the lack of notable heat waves during the year, which generally lead to increased beverage consumption.

Innovation, variety and the increase in the production of beverages with a functional added value are the three characteristics that summarize the Spanish soft drink market in the last decade, according to the association. There are currently more than 2,000 beverages on the market. Around 150 new products are launched each year, half of them in summer, a key season for the industry.

Ricardo Miguelañez.- How would you describe sector performance in 2014?

Josep Puxeu.- The soft drink sector, within the agri-food industry, is a driver of Spain's economy. Right now we're working on reinforcing growth (although we're not worried about this issue), as we have been immersed a long cycle of apathetic consumption, which was remedied due to good tourism data and very hard work by many sectors, especially HoReCa, to maintain activity levels.

R.M.- What are Anfabra's goals for this year?

J.P.- This year we are working to restore consumer confidence and to recover "our space", which we never should have lost. We're talking about a sector with production of 50 million hectoliters, with 4.5 billion euros in revenues. As an association, for 2015 we want the rebound in consumption to lead to an improved economic context for the agri-food sector. Moreover, in view of the uncertainties and changes an election year brings, we are committed to greater transparency and clarity in our messages and content. For example, we endeavor to explain soft drink label content, so that every consumer chooses the drink that best adapts to his or her needs. This is because there have been deliberate efforts to attack these types of products, which are safe and transparent.

R.M.- What does the association believe is the best way to boost consumption?

J.P.- Anything that favors employment, stability and job creation are key pillars for reviving the economy and consumption in Spain. We have spent a lengthy period in a very complicated situation in terms of consumption, and the time has come for a change in the cycle, which Anfabra aims to leverage with our communication and product strategies.

R.M.- What goals does Anfabra have for 2015 in terms of production and communication?

J.P.- We have proposed internal challenges in various companies, in efficiency processes and in system improvements, while maintaining our commitment to sustainability in production and distribution processes. Reducing environmental impacts has also been one of our objectives, due to our commitment to society and to improving the economic efficiency of systems. Additionally, we want to encourage informed, responsible consumption, as well as its social aspect—in a Mediterranean country like Spain where it's essential—which represents a more friendly, participatory stimulus to boost the country's mood. This spring may be an indicator of a recovery.

R.M.- Do Spanish companies have national research centers? Are there products created here and distributed in other countries?

J.P.- Of course, there are products and there have been marketing strategies and campaigns created in Spain which have been distributed worldwide. In the case of soft drinks, production is on-site, with the result that large multinationals have a very local starting point in terms of production and distribution. For example, Coca-Cola has marketing campaigns and communication strategies that have been rolled out in Spain and then have been replicated throughout the world.

R.M.- Taxes are another issue that's a general concern for the food industry. What do you think of the tax base in Spain?

J.P.- This is a sector that can withstand a very high tax base. Tax rates have to be considered as a whole, without singling out Value Added Tax or Corporate Income Tax, since there are other factors of the economy in connection with the sector which are also part of the calculation. In fact, we believe that the sector's tax contribution is around 400 million euros, which represents 8% of the goods' ex-works value.

R.M.- What do you think about the planned tax on sugar?

J.P.- Someone was looking for a way to invent a tax for this product, with a theoretically well-intentioned purpose, i.e. the fight against obesity, but without much scientific research. And it's not very aligned with reality, as we are committed to balanced diets and a healthy lifestyle. Nobody has applied a tax to the sofa or to the TV remote because a sedentary lifestyle is bad for your health.

R.M.- To conclude, what is the sector's approach to recycling?

J.P.- The recycling rate in our industry is higher than 90%, and we are one of the most demanding sectors with the highest recovery rates in PET, glass and metal packaging. We far outstrip the rest of Europe. The integrated system is working and, moreover, we feel like participants and we are comfortable being part of it, having been founding partners to some degree.

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19/06/2017