Ricardo Migueláñez. Agricultural Engineer @rmiguelanez
Ricardo Migueláñez.- First off, I would like to congratulate ASEMAC on being operational for 25 years. How would you describe this last quarter of a century?
Felipe Ruano.- Thank you! It has been an exciting adventure, during which the more than 30 companies comprising the Association have witnessed growth in the volume of sales and revenues of this new segment of the food retail industry. We have achieved this as a result of the hard work by our associates in producing a food, preserved at a specific temperature, and investment in R&D, which has allowed for the construction of factories of hitherto unimaginable sizes and the use of new, much more productive machinery. We have also seen new launches of industrial products on the market which have revolutionized bread and pastry displays in stores and in the foodservice segment.
Frozen doughs have revolutionized the sale of bread, pastries and cakes. Now you can find them at many points-of-sale, freshly baked and ready to eat.
Over the course of these 25 years, we have been able to position the Bread and Pastry segment as a prime component of Spain's food industry, accounting for a very relevant portion of the national economy, as 37% of food and beverage companies are involved in the production of fresh bread and pastas.
R.M.- As an Association, what type of actions are you carrying out in 2015 to celebrate your 25th anniversary?
F.R.- The Association makes an effort to implement actions of interest for our associates. To celebrate our anniversary, we held a special general assembly and an official act, attended by the member companies and which enabled us to exchange opinions and outlooks on the future of the sector in Spain. Moreover, our anniversary coincided with the elections for ASEMAC's new board of directors.
Other actions which took place during our anniversary celebrations included the recent presentation of the Labeling Manual. Consumers want clear, extensive information about the products they consume. To that end, the Manual provides them with information so that they can adapt their product labels to this new standard.
R.M.- What types of companies comprise ASEMAC?
F.R.- Most of the companies in the association were originally created by the frozen dough sub-sector within the food industry. Some of the companies have increased in size to over 200 million euros, while others have reached 100 or 150 million euros. Other companies in the traditional sector have gradually joined that group—small bread companies which have adapted to working with frozen doughs and, by joining, have been able to expand their market. However, the core is comprised of companies that exclusively produce frozen bread and baked goods.
R.M.- In addition to the industrial production of bread, member companies also make other products. What types of baked goods and pastries do ASEMAC members produce?
F.R.- Cold temperatures are ideal for producing traditional breads and baked goods. Moreover, the companies have made adaptations to produce products which are more international, as a necessary requirement to continue growing. As regards the pastry segment, any innovative technique conceived by a professional baker can be applied to different types of cakes, be they classic Spanish, French or Belgian products. We have also included the main hospitality networks—their menus and cafés— providing more novel baked goods which vary over the course of the year.
The sector has also adapted to pastries and cakes associated with specific occasions.
R.M.- ASEMAC companies continue to expand production, year after year; however, consumption of this product is not as positive as one would hope. What do you think is happening?
F.R.- In 2014, the companies in our association continued to grow, even though it was an unfavorable year in terms of bread consumption, while the pastry/cake mix remained stable. This means that products supplied by the Association's member companies are notably higher compared with data from last year and, in this regard, we view the situation as very positive, especially considering the current economic climate in Spain.
R.M.- ASEMAC is also a member of INCERHPAN, the Interprofessional Organization of Bread Cereals and Derivatives. Do you believe that bringing back that organization can help promote consumption of this product?
F.R.- That was the main reason for trying to revive it— having the entire sector together was important, and we did it. At the proposal of our Association, we changed the organization of the board of directors to help develop the product production cycle. That means we will try to exchange all of the information we have with a view to raising awareness and improving our campaign to promote bread consumption, called "Bread Every Day", which is sponsored by INCERHPAN and which has both professional technical and scientific committees. It's a slow process which we expect to yield results in the short term; however, considering that we are all executives who are part of the system, and it seems that the European Union is going to provide aid in the next two years to interprofessional organizations, including INCERHPAN, we believe we will be able to design a better campaign over that period with sufficient resources to reach consumers.
R.M.- Lastly, ASEMAC is an active participant in the "Bread Every Day" campaign. What is the ultimate objective?
F.R.- Nutrition professionals believe there is scientific evidence demonstrating that bread should be eaten daily. We aim to share that information. Bread is a fundamental part of a healthy, balanced diet, as proven in many scientific studies.