Alaia Arriortua/Manel González. Journalists
The President of the Business Association of Madrid Food Industries (ASEACAM), Ricardo Oteros, analyzes agri-food companies' current situation for Qcom.es, as 2016 draws to a close.
Alaia Arriortua/Manel González.- The year is coming to an end and it's time to take stock. How did agri-food companies in the Madrid region fare in 2016?
Ricardo Oteros.- The sector had a positive performance in 2016. Even though it doesn’t depend heavily on the economic cycle, as it's a strategic sector related to the food industry, we did notice a recovery in the last year.
A. A./M. G.- What's the current situation of companies in the hospitality industry?
R. O.- There's definitely noticeable growth in the hospitality sector after the last few years of crisis. Moreover, it's the market that we consider to be especially interesting for gourmet products.
A. A./M. G.- How do companies benefit by being part of ASEACAM?
R. O.- ASEACAM was created to promote Madrid's agri-food companies and food products—both primary products as well as processed ones. Promotion takes place in all channels: catering, distribution, internationally and vis-à-vis the final consumer. ASEACAM aims to raise awareness about the quality, guarantee and proximity of foods that are produced or processed in Madrid among trade professionals and regular consumers. Madrid has a large food industry, and ranks seventh among all Spanish regions in terms of the number of workers, with more than 1,400 companies and total revenues of over 4.5 billion euros. Many of ASEACAM's associate companies are leaders in their various sub-sectors.
A. A./M. G.- ASEACAM is committed to innovation. To what degree and with what kinds of projects?
R. O.- The challenge we face is a complete change in society and consumption habits. This happens in all areas of life, but especially in food, as people want products that are healthier, last longer, are more natural, yield less waste, have a greater contribution to society, and come in single-serve portions. In view of this, ASEACAM wants to be leaders in promoting innovation among companies in Madrid. One of our jobs is to connect our companies with R&D centers and universities, so we've been organizing visits, and we're participating in national and European projects which focus on the development of new products which meet the market's needs.
A. A./M. G.- One challenge has always been to promote the association internationally. Have you made progress in this area?
R. O.- One of the association's main objectives is to encourage the internationalization of its companies. Many of our companies already export regularly, and some have major projects under way in other countries. We have been engaged in international promotion activities for years, with the former Promomadrid, the Chamber of Commerce, the Office of the Environment, etc., encouraging participation in international fairs and competitions, such as SIAL and ANUGA. At the moment, the executive board is studying the possibility of establishing its own foreign trade service to work on behalf of companies from Madrid.
A. A./M. G.- The consumption of natural, organic, unprocessed products has increased in recent times. How does ASEACAM adapt to demand from this type of consumer?
R. O.- Demand for organic products is on the rise. Many of our companies sell products certified by the Organic Agriculture Committee, increasing the number of products available as well as sales. It's one of the market segments with the greatest growth.
A. A./M. G.- What services does ASEACAM offer companies that are having a tough time?
R. O.- The association endeavors to help those companies that have fallen on hard times. There's not much we can do directly, but we do play an important role in helping to link them up with financial institutions. That being said, perhaps what's most notable is the interaction between associates. The association comprises a wonderful group of people—business leaders—who we consider friends more than competitors in many ways, and perhaps that's the most valuable aspect of being a part of ASEACAM.