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14/12/2016

The true stars of Christmas always come out on top

  • One again, wine, cava, Ibérico products, turrón and marzipan will take pride of place on Spanish dinner tables

Manel González. Journalist

Without them, Christmas traditions would be meaningless. Turrón and marzipan, Ibérico ham, wine and cava make up the "dream team" of traditional Christmas products for Spaniards, although prawns will always be the main attraction. As we reach the end of 2016, which saw a slight recovery in the food sector after several years of crisis, there's every indication that they will continue to have a privileged position at family festivities this holiday season. Below we offer an overview of the latest consumption data available and the forecast for each sector.

Turrón and marzipan

Spanish turrón and marzipan have a privileged position around the world, thanks to their quality and that of the ingredients used to make them. Germany, the UK and France, in the EU, and the US and Latin America, are the main importers.

According to data from the Spanish Confectionery Association (Produlce), the turrón and marzipan sector registered production of 31,916 tons in 2015, 0.6% more than in 2014, worth 307 million euros, 6.3% higher than in 2014. Moreover, the export volume of turrón and marzipan last year amounted to 5,197 tons, 9.5% more than during the previous season, while export value totaled 49 million euros, up 12.2% compared with 2014.

Based on data from Produlce, which presented the turrón and marzipan campaign for this Christmas just a few days ago, per capita consumption amounts to 580 grams, 80% of which is turrón and 20% is marzipan and other similar holiday products.

In terms of volume sold, chocolate turrón leads the ranking, followed very closely by traditional turrón (hard and soft). Other holiday sweets such as polvorones (light, crumbly shortbread), mantecados (sweets made from lard, flour and almonds), and Christmas chocolates etc. trail quite far behind.

"Innovation is the driver that allows us to surprise consumers each year and to undertake the challenge of making these products less seasonal, with varieties that favor the use of turrón and marzipan in novel products and formats all year long, for both consumers and for the HoReCa channel," said the General Secretary of Produlce, Rubén Moreno, at the beginning of the campaign.

Ibérico pork

According to the 2015 Report on Food Consumption in Spain, from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing, Food and the Environment (MAPAMA), meat consumption by Spanish households amounted to 2,236.8 million kilos, down 2.2% compared with 2014, with a positive variation of 0.4% (14,632.4 million euros).

Per capita consumption of meat also fell, to 50.14 kilos per person per year, -1.7% with respect to 2014.

Of the more than two billion kilos absorbed by the market, 15.6 million kilos were Ibérico pork, worth 126.5 million euros and with per capital spending of 2.82 euros; 13.3 million kilos were Ibérico ham (363.4 million euros, 8.14 euros per person); 3.8 million kilos were Ibérico pork shoulder (91.8 million euros, 2.06 euros per person; 2.4 million kilos were dry-cured Ibérico pork loin (75.4 million euros, 1.7 euros per person); and 4.8 million kilos were Ibérico chorizo (56.3 million euros, 1.27 euros per person).

In addition to household consumption, it's also important to mention the notable consumption by the catering and foodservice segment, especially in terms of Ibérico pork products. However, MAPAMA does not have a breakdown of information for that channel.

If "2015 was better than any other year" for Andrés Paredes, who heads the Interprofessional Iberian Pig Association (ASICI), then, this Christmas, "the recovery in consumption makes us even more optimistic."

Wine

Spaniards will also be drinking plenty of wine this holiday season. As Pau Roca, General Secretary of the Spanish Wine Federation (FEV), told WikiSpanishFood.com, "There's every indication that the next Christmas campaign will confirm the positive trend in wine and cava consumption, after several years of crisis, during which time good news for the sector was mainly due to exports and not to the performance of the Spanish market. In any event, it's important for the sector to work on a medium- and long-term strategy to increase responsible consumption of wine in Spain in a way that is stable and sustainable over time, minimizing seasonality and increasing both the consumer base and consumption occasions. The objective should also be to recover traditional spaces for wine which, in recent years, have been occupied by other beverages, and to identify new moments and occasions for consuming wine, keeping in mind the impact that new technologies related to our sector can play."

According to MAPAMA food consumption panel data, household consumption of wine and wine beverages in 2015 amounted to 440.1 million liters, valued at 1,019.6 million euros, at an average price of 2.32 euros per liter. These figures reflect a decline of -3.1% in volume and -4.4% in value with respect to 2014, as well as -1.4% in the average price.

In terms of products, still wines with a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) performed well in terms of value, while sparkling wines and cavas, in contrast, registered losses.

PDOs had an output of 137.6 million liters, worth 529.5 million euros, at an average price of 3.85 euros per liter. These figures suggest that consumption expanded by 1.1% in terms of volume, 3.8% in value and 3.6% in average price, compared with 2014. MAPAMA data indicates that average consumption of PDO still wines in 2015 was 3.09 liters per person per year, 1.6% higher than in 2014.

The regions that are the most committed to this product are the Balearic Islands, the Basque Country, the Canary Islands, Cantabria and Catalonia.

As for non-PDO still wines, the numbers are negative. Consumption slipped by -8.6% in volume with respect to 2014, to 184.6 million liters, and by -15.5% in value, to 217.2 million euros, with an average price that is -7.5% more economical, to 1.18 euros per liter.

However, if data in the MAPAMA report indicates that the distribution of wine consumption by channel is divided between food consumption (72% of volume and 37.2% of spending) and consumption outside of the home (28% of volume and 62.8% of spending), we see that the volume of wine and sparkling wine consumed by Spaniards in 2015 outside of the home amounted to 146.6 million liters, worth 1,628.9 million euros, broken down into 339.28 million drinks. In total, 79.6% of those liters correspond to wine, and the remaining 20.4% is sparkling wine (7 out of every 10 euros spent is on wine).

According to the Market Trends report by Nielsen, analyzed by the Spanish Wine Market Observatory (OEMV) at the beginning of the year, sales of still wines at self-service establishments increased by 2% in 2015.

This holiday season, leading Spanish wines will take center stage.

Cava

The last quarter of 2015 was inexplicably weak for cava, which saw a positive trend in Spain in the first nine months of the year due to growth in Reserva (6.25%) and Gran Reserva cavas (18%), the bulk of which was attributable to the HoReCa channel. However, that came to an end in October, and the final quarter saw a slide of -0.80%, a setback which surprised the Cava Regulatory Council. Perhaps it was due to weariness from the election campaign? Maybe it was the never-ending threat to boycott Catalan products? The causes were never clear.

What's certain is that, in Spain, 86.87 million bottles were sold in 2015, i.e. 704,000 less than in 2014 (87.6).

In terms of categories of standard cava, of which 69% is exported and 31% is consumed in Spain, a total of 214,837,826 bottles were sold, i.e. -0.07% less than in 2014. Of those, 67,450,365 were for consumption in Spain, -1.19% less than in 2014, and 147,387,461 were exported, an increase of +0.44% with respect to the previous year.

As for Reserva cava, of which 62% remained in Spain, the overall numbers were positive: 24,550,458 bottles, +8.73% with respect to the previous year. A total of 15,271,347 bottles were sold in Spain, i.e. 0.43% more than in 2014, and 9,279,111 were exported, reflecting impressive year-on-year growth of +25.86%.

Gran Reserva cavas saw growth in 2015, with a total of 4,734,845 bottles sold, up +0.5% compared with 2014. Bottles sold in Spain amounted to 4,154,381, up +1.06% with respect to 2014. However, sales of this type of cava outside Spain dipped by -2.61% (580,464 bottles).

Council President Pedro Bonet is looking to the upcoming holidays “with some optimism. We expect it to be a normal campaign,” he told WikiSpanishFood.com. “Both modern and traditional distribution are optimistic.”

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