Laura Valdivielso. Journalist
We interviewed the General Secretary of the Spanish Association of Juice Producers (Asozumos), Alfonso Mena, who summarizes the industry's most important milestones from the last year as well as the challenges that lie ahead in 2018.
Question.- What trends did you see in the juice industry in 2017?
Answer.- With the continuous slide in juice consumption, this year the sector has remained committed to innovation and we've tried to outdo ourselves, meeting the market's general needs. One of the factors we've paid close attention to has been our consumer, who is increasingly demanding and always on the lookout for quality products to meet his needs, such as hydration, nutrition and antioxidants, three attributes which characterize juices and about which we are highly aware.
On the other hand, quality and attributes have been the sector's priority; to that end, the companies comprising Asozumos have focused on product packaging, which has become one of the main goals for this year. These are all in addition to our ongoing commitment to sustainability, which is apparent thanks to the efficiency of our innovative production processes.
Q.- This was the second year of the program "Fruit Juice Matters." What would you like to highlight about this project?
A.- This is the first European project in which we have an active role and whose objective is simple, persistent and clear. We mainly provide information about fruit juice and its nutritional properties from a scientific standpoint.
We thought it was an interesting initiative, not only for the sector, but also because we believe that there's a lot of incorrect information in the food space at the moment. The first step in enabling people to read labels and understand the nutritional value of the products they consume is for the health professionals they ask for advice to understand that information.
That's the main goal of "Fruit Juice Matters;" to that end, since we started in 2016, we have endeavored to attend conferences for dietitians and nutritionists, general practitioners, primary care physicians, pediatric dentists, etc. as well as other activities related to those groups.
We are trying to underline the importance of eating right and the impact on health, supported by scientific evidence and underpinned by the legislation regulating the sector.
We currently have a profile on Twitter (@FJM_ES), and a website (www.zumodefrutaenserio.es), and we send out a newsletter at the end of each month. These tools enable us to interact with our followers and be in touch with current opinions on our product. We usually share information of interest through our press releases, interviews and infographics, all of which come from our website.
Q.- What is the Spanish juice industry's status at the moment?
A.- Despite the ongoing decline in consumption in Spain, the country is still a pioneer in terms of fruit and vegetable exports in Europe. According to the study presented by the European Fruit Juice Association (AIJN), a total of 830.32 million liters were consumed in Spain in 2017, down 6.28% with respect to 2016. Within Europe, Spain ranks fourth in terms of consumption.
The most popular fruit juice among Europeans is orange, accounting for 38% of market volume and 30% of consumption in Spain. The French and British are the main orange juice drinkers, with 48.8% and 60.2% of the market, respectively. The second most-consumed flavor in Spain is pineapple, with a 19% market share. German and British consumers like apple juice, which accounts for 24.9% and 12.9% of the market, respectively, while the French like fruit medleys, with 21.6%.
According to the most recent Report on Food Consumption in Spain (2016), drafted by MAPAMA, families with young teens account for 19.2% of the market, followed by families with small children, with 15.5%, and retirees, with 15.4%.
Q.- Data suggests that expansion into new, non-EU markets has been very positive. In which countries have you been most successful?
A.- That's right. We are very proud of the results of our exports to non-EU markets. We have experienced notable growth in the US, China, Japan and South Korea, in particular.
Exports increased by 11.5% compared with last year, according to data from the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness. Those exports are going from strength to strength each year, and accounted for 30.9% of all foreign trade by Spanish juice and nectar producers in 2016.
Spain is an innovator in the production and export of citrus fruits, as evidenced by the fact that we are exporting increasing quantities to countries that have traditionally been producers of those fruits, such as China, which is one of the world's largest producers. With respect to product types, orange juice was still the most exported juice in 2016, accounting for 27.6% of export value, together with grape juice (25.7%) and other citrus juices (15.3%).
Q.- What plans does the Association have in 2018?
A.- We want to continue to innovate and grow as much as possible with a view to providing useful information to customers as well as industry specialists.