Ricardo Miguelañez. Agricultural Engineer @rmiguelanez
Brief description of Produlce
Produlce is a non-profit which brings together manufacturers from various confectionery segments with a view to safeguarding the sector's collective interests, positioning it as a leading association vis-à-vis the entities with which it works, and developing common actions that improve the operating environment.
Ricardo Miguelañez: Produlce is an association that comprises a large number of products. Could you tell us about the subsectors it includes and how it works?
Olga Martínez: Produlce (Spanish Confectionery Association) was created in 2011 following the reorganization of the various associations which at that time comprised the confectionery sector, the goal being to unify the entire sector under a single organization and improve effectiveness, representation and efficacy in our efforts to defend the industry's interests and provide the best possible service to our associates.
There are five subsectors, or categories, represented by Produlce: Cocoa and Chocolate, Candy and Gum, Cookies, Cakes and Pastries, and Turrón and Marzipan.
Produlce manages all horizontal issues for that set of categories, working specifically with each of them through five Sector Committees created for that purpose. This allows for maximum efficiency in addressing common topics with specific tasks focused on the distinctive features of each category. We also have three horizontal commissions that address technical-legal and nutritional aspects for the sector, the Association's communication strategy, and specific tasks with associate SMEs. There is an Executive Committee comprised of members from each of the categories, as well as a General Assembly, which is the Association's highest decision-making body.
R.M.- What is the current status of the sector represented by Produlce? How would you describe the markets?
O.M.- Produlce represents a sector with an enormous capacity to adapt and innovate, which has allowed our industry to weather these last few difficult years rather well overall, even registering growth in terms of volume and revenues (2.3% and 2.6%, respectively, in 2013) and with very high export volumes (32% of production) and job stability—even with a slight increase in this area—with approximately 15,000 people with direct jobs. As a result, our sector ranks seventh in terms of revenues in the Spanish food and beverage industry as a whole, and fifth among confectionery producers in the European Union.
R.M.- What are the main challenges and threats facing the companies represented by Produlce?
O.M.- The challenges our companies face are precisely those we aim to address through our work and the services we offer our companies. For example, Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers entered into force in December 2014, and has posed a very notable challenge for the entire food and beverage industry, and clearly also for our sector. As a result, our technical-legal department worked tirelessly to respond to all the questions that arose from the regulation's entry into force, providing our associates with answers and solutions. This year we will continue to work on those particulars currently being implemented as part of the regulation, on aspects such as provenance, which will become effective in 2016. The Market Unity Guarantee Act and implementation of the Food Supply Chain Act 12/2013 will also take center stage this year.
At the same time, promoting, and advising on, greater sector internationalization will remain a priority, specifically for SMEs, for which efforts will also be stepped up to offer them a more detailed service in other areas, and we will continue to closely monitor issues such as trade barriers in foreign markets and the performance of sugar inventories in the European Union.
R.M.- Broadly speaking, and according to institutional data, agri-food exports are performing well. What is the status of this issue for your sector?
O.M.- As I mentioned, and although the various categories perform differently, in general, our sector exports 32% of production, which is notably higher than the average for Spanish exports (23%) and also higher than the average for Spain's food and beverage industry (28%), which is one of the drivers of Spanish exports. The confectionery sector's export coverage ratio is 132%, providing a positive contribution to Spain's trade balance.
However, Produlce remains dedicated to increasing our companies' internationalization, which is another main priority for 2015. Along these lines, we are working to promote all kinds of actions to facilitate access by our companies to foreign markets and to promote the sector vis-à-vis foreign buyers.
R.M.- What are the main markets for Produlce companies?
O.M.- Our main destination, just like all of Spain's agri-food industry, continues to be the European Union, which accounts for 75% of our exports. Our primary customers are Portugal, France, the UK and Germany. However, we have been diversifying our exports in recent years and countries like the US, Algeria and Israel are among the top 10 destinations for our products, along with other more traditional non-EU markets for our industry, such as Latin America. Moreover, in recent times we've also seen our companies take a growing interest and become increasingly active in more exotic markets with tremendous potential, such as Asia and the Middle East.
R.M.- Lastly, what are Produlce's objectives for the coming years?
O.M.- In the near future, Produlce aims to continue to increase its representation of the sector, strengthen relations with all of our liaisons and improve the day-to-day services we offer our associates, so that our Association is viewed as a leading partner for each and every one of them.