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"Wine is history and tradition, but it also represents the future"

Ricardo Migueláñez. Agricultural Engineer @rmiguelanez

Barré has been President of the Spanish Wine Federation and CEO of Pernod Ricard Bodegas, which includes Campo Viejo, Ysios, AGE, Tarsus, Aura and Vinícola Navarra, since 2009.

He has a Master's degree in International Business from CECE Marseille, and he started out at Pernod Ricard in 1986 as International Marketing Director of Benelux, then of Africa, Northern Europe and Canada, in that order. Before arriving in Spain, he was Director of Pernod Ricard in Canada (1991-1996), Mexico (1996-2003) and Switzerland (2003-2009).

Ricardo Migueláñez.- Knowing that the situation in the sector is slightly out of control and undergoing massive changes, what is the FEV's goal at the moment?

C.B.- I agree that we are in a period of significant changes, but I don't think the situation is out of control, although various members of the sector are concerned in view of the market performance after several years of crisis and the regulatory changes that have occurred in the last few months, such as the Food Chain Law.

Despite uncertainty in several aspects of the business, at the end of the day the entire sector shares common interests, such as exporting more, seeing a recovery in consumption in Spain, and attaining a level of prices that is acceptable for everyone, from the consumer to the vintner. These are the priority objectives of the FEV which I committed to when I was appointed president.

R.M.- The FEV is involved in every kind of wine activity around the world, regardless of whether or not there are many organizations. Does it represent all sector players?

C.B.- The FEV represents Spain's wine-producing industry as a whole. We are the oldest private organization for wineries as well as the one with the most experience and knowledge about the sector, and which comprises the greatest number of wineries throughout Spain, representing slightly more than 77% of total revenues.

We continue working to include wineries that are currently not part of the Federation because we believe their participation in the FEV and the various points of view they represent within the sector are important. Also, for those wineries, it's very beneficial to have the support of a strong, united association in a sector as fragmented as ours, in which many companies are too small to face the problems within the industry which may affect their business and earnings.

R.M.- The wine sector comprises more than 400,000 winemakers, 5,000 wineries, and cooperatives, among others. What is the FEV's objective in terms of helping defend the image of Spanish wine in and outside Spain?

C.B.- That's right. Spain's wine sector is very fragmented, with a large number of wineries and different provenances in the same territory, which makes it seem like there are diverging interests at times. However, the FEV aims to unify those interests with a view to advancing the scope of wine in the markets and increasing its value and perception, in Spain and worldwide.

In this regard, one of the main challenges we face is increasing the average price of Spanish wine and its perceived quality among consumers. If we compare our wines with those of our main rivals around the world, Spanish wine prices are still too low, considering their quality.

Once the Extension of the Rule mechanism we agreed on last summer is ratified by the Ministry, the Interprofessional organization's main goal will be to finance promotional campaigns which follow along the lines of the "He who knows how to drink knows how to live" campaign, which promotes moderate consumption and was coordinated by the FEV with national and EU funds in cooperation with regulatory councils.

This was a small campaign which just ended after three years, but it is important because it is a starting point for future campaigns, rolled out by the Interprofessional organization with a wide range of media, which aim to improve consumption indices in Spain.

R.M.- What role and responsibility does the FEV have in the future and in terms of the success of the Interprofessional organization? Why weren't the Regulatory Councils included?

C.B.- The FEV played an important role in getting the Interprofessional organization up and running last year. It was one of the priorities set out in our Strategic Plan, and we informed the Minister of Agriculture at the time, Miguel Arias Cañete who, from the very beginning, undertook that goal as his own and ensured that, a few months later, his successor presided over the signing of the organization's articles of association.

Once it's operational, the FEV is going to play a very active role in defining projects and implementing the strategy to promote and raise awareness about wine, which should help lead to a recovery in consumption in Spain, which is the organization's number one priority.  

Its success depends not only on us, but also on all of the groups that are part of that organization. I'm sure this occurs with other members, but we are fully aware of what's at stake for the industry and we are doing everything we can to do things right so that its efforts are a success.

The participation of Designations of Origin through the Spanish Conference of Wine Regulatory Councils (CECRV) is regulated in the Interprofessional organization's articles of association as members of the Advisory Committee. Moreover, the Regulatory Councils are participating indirectly in the three branches represented within the organization (wineries, cooperatives and farmers' unions), with the result that its position, which is important, will always have a presence during debates.  

R.M.- An increasing amount of wine is being sold abroad, but at lower prices. What do you think could be done to raise the profile of Spanish wine in international markets?

C.B.- As I said, this is one of the main challenges the sector faces in the short and medium term, and it's also one of the three main objectives I established when I became president of the FEV a few months ago.  

At international level, we're seeing notable development with regard to previous years. On the one hand we're seeing consistent growth in terms of exports of bottled wine and, on the other, slightly more erratic advancement of bulk wines, which is mainly linked to each year's harvest. In the long term, we must try to find a balance between demand and production to avoid these "bumps in the road" and to aim to increase the perceived value of Spanish wines, which would also involve an increase in price in the medium and long term.

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19/06/2017