Ricardo Miguelañez, Agricultural Engineer. @rmiguelanez
Ricardo Migueláñez.- The National Meat Processing Industries Association (ANICE) has been around for almost 40 years. What type of companies does it comprise and what does the association do for them?
C.S.- ANICE is the largest meat association in Spain. Being operational for almost four decades validates our efforts to defend meat companies and positions it as a business leader for the sector, as it comprises more than 700 companies throughout Spain. Our Association represents more than 60% of the Spanish meat production segment, and even more in certain cases, such as Ibérico pork by-products, for which we represent 90% of the total.
R.M.- The meat sector is performing positively at present, especially internationally. What are the reasons for its success outside Spain?
C.S.- Foreign trade is strategically important for our sector. Hard work over the years by the companies with a commitment to internationalization, and the tireless dedication of ANICE and sector organizations, in coordination with the Public Administration, has yielded a good level of meat exports. Spain is the world's fourth-leading exporter of pork, with a market share of 8%, trailing Germany (18%), the US (15%) and Denmark (10%).
R.M.- What are the main destination markets for our meat?
C.S.- The bulk of our exports still go to European Union countries, mainly France, Germany, Portugal and Italy. To that end, the sector has two notable challenges in this area: to quickly increase sales to non-EU markets and to expand in value-added products, i.e. processed products which set us apart from the competition in other countries.
Most notably, we are selling considerable quantities to very interesting non-EU countries, such as Japan, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and the US, among others. For example, exports to non-EU nations increased by 30% in volume and 33% in value in 2014, while the Russian market was shuttered and barred.
R.M.- What are the main challenges and threats facing the companies you represent? What opportunities are there?
C.S.- The meat industry is the fourth-largest industrial sector in Spain, and comprises small- and medium-sized companies. We are the largest segment of Spain's food and beverage industry.
Challenges include promoting consumption, defending the image of meat and by-products and their fundamental role in a healthy and balanced diet, advancing the internationalization of our companies, having stable regulatory environments which don't continuously generate unacceptable costs and insecurity for companies, ensuring that lending is more fluid so as to fund our investments, and achieving an effective balance in business relations, etc.
R.M.- Spanish stockbreeding is an example of competitiveness. How does that impact the industry's capacity? What remains to be done to gain a foothold in even more markets?
C.S.- The value chain for various meats has advanced notably and very well for many years, with participation by all of its segments, from livestock production to our companies. But this situation has no guarantees. Exporting is very complicated and there is extraordinary competition, and not all that glitters is gold in the international trade of meat.
The companies do everything possible, and sometimes the impossible, to develop our export activity. But, as occurred in Russia, often times we are subject to political decisions and strategies by countries and governments which are outside of our scope of action. That's why we ask for the highest level of involvement by our government, to manage foreign trade in meat as a national strategy.
R.M.- As regards the Ibérico sector, and now that the crisis seems to be behind us, what lessons have we learned so that history doesn't repeat itself?
C.S.- Our group of Ibérico companies, IBERAICE, is working closely with the sector, the Ministry of Agriculture and the regional governments so that more information is available more quickly about production, consumption, sector needs, etc.
R.M.- In the case of pork, a leader in production and exports, what can the Interprofessional Agri-Food Organization for White Pigs (Interporc) contribute at national and international level?
C.S.- Indubitably, Interporc is, and will continue to be, an extremely important organization for the sector, especially through the corresponding "Extensions of the Rule", which ensure that the necessary resources are available for achieving priority objectives. Interporc is playing an important role in driving the internationalization of Spanish pork from white pigs and in promoting consumption and nutritional information about these meats and by-products, etc.
R.M.- Innovation is essential for this and for other agri-food sectors. However, don't you think that product innovation has slowed in recent years?
C.S.- On the contrary, processes to improve technology and innovation are a fundamental pillar for the companies, and they are closely linked to the search for more competitive conditions in foreign markets and to the development of growth strategies in the mature Spanish market.
But it is worth noting one problem: data and studies show a direct relationship between the level of concentration of large supermarkets and private label brands, and the decline in the number of new innovative products brought to market.
Copycats also curb innovation, as successful innovative products are often copied without having to undertake development efforts nor bear the costs for a large number of launches which fail in the market. In view of this, we believe there should be a regulation at EU level which protects innovation in both of these aspects.
R.M.-Lastly, what does ANICE offer meat sector companies and what are its objectives for the coming years?
C.S.- We are the most effective, credible voice for the business, and we have the authority, leadership and recognition by the food industry, the public administrations and society.
Our current and future objective is to guarantee the profitable and sustainable development of our companies, in all of the aspects I've mentioned, and to continue to work with all of our stakeholders, from the Spanish and international public administrations to social partners, clients, consumers, employees, etc.