Ricardo Migueláñez. Agricultural Engineer
Spanish Almond Board-Almendrave comprises companies accounting for 80% of Spanish almond and hazelnut exports. It has coordinated, defended and promoted the common interests of its associates, at home and abroad, since 1947. Wikispanishfood.com interviews Pere Ferre i Masdeu, president of Almendrave, to learn more about the industry's situation in Spain.
What is Spanish Almond Board-Almendrave and what are its main objectives?
It's the Spanish Almond and Hazelnut Exporters Association, a non-profit professional industry organization which operates nationwide. It was created as a union in 1947, and later became a business association in 1977. During its 70 years of operation, it has represented, managed and defended almond and hazelnut exporters; however, it's not involved at all in sales.
Spanish Almond Board-Almendrave currently represents the leading almond and hazelnut exporters in Spain, which account for 80% of total exports, reaching more than 140 countries.
How does Almendrave support its associates and what services does it offer them?
One of Almendrave's strategic priorities is to promote almonds and hazelnuts with a view to boosting their consumption in traditional and new markets. Every year, promotional plans are developed and coordinated, including participation in international fairs and the organization of technical workshops to highlight our companies' competitive advantages.
The association defends and promotes the common interests of its associates in Spain and abroad, and liaises with the government and export sector, providing support and exchanging information with public entities and the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. It also offers advisory services in connection with changes in legislation that affect the sector and lobbies in defense of companies' interests.
What is the current status of almond and hazelnut exports? How is the sector weathering the current economic situation?
In recent years, Spain has become the third-leading almond producer and the fourth-leading hazelnut producer at global level. Our producers are engaged in a sweeping modernization process to enhance farms and boost output and, at industrial level, Spain is at the vanguard in Europe in terms of quality and processed product systems.
Despite economic difficulties, the leading Spanish companies have increased their sales each year. We are currently operating in a global market and the companies have internationalized.
According to institutional data, agri-food exports are performing well. Where do nut industry exports stand?
The increase the consumption of nuts worldwide, due to their undeniable and scientifically-proven health benefits, is proving beneficial for sector companies. Exports of almonds and hazelnuts totaled 50,000 tons and 260 million euros in 2013, but this is nothing new. We've been exporting for many years, and we have extensive experience in international markets, where our products are more highly-valued every single day.
What are the main markets for Almendrave companies?
Traditionally, Almendrave companies focused on the EU, although they're currently exporting to 140 countries on five continents. The main consumer of almonds and hazelnuts is the candy, turrón, chocolate and the pastry making sector, with packaged nuts accounting for 15% of the market.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the companies in Almendrave?
The companies' main strength is their extensive knowledge about the product: Spain is a producer of quality almonds and hazelnuts. Member companies have considerable expertise about the product, processes and logistical advantages compared with America and Australia.
Moreover, producers are advancing notably with new intensive farming techniques. The greatest weakness is the sector's small size. It's important to continue making progress in consolidation.
What are the main messages used by associates to promote consumption of nuts produced in Spain?
Years ago people didn't know about the healthy properties of nuts. Today, leading scientific studies support the impact of our products on health.
Lastly, what are Almendrave's objectives for the coming years?
We want to continue to promote nut consumption worldwide and strengthen our associates to address the challenges and demands of new markets.