Wikispanishfood editorial team
The Business Association of Madrid Food Industries (ASEACAM). The association, founded in 1994, represents food companies in Madrid, Designations of Origin and Geographical Indications, and promotes their quality regional products. Wikispanishfood.com interviews Ricardo Oteros, President of ASEACAM, who offers his impression of the association's first 20 years.
Wikispanishfood.com.- ASEACAM just celebrated its 20th anniversary. How was the association created and who were its founders?
Ricardo Oteros.- ASEACAM was created in the 1990s to promote a common image of the foods produced in the Madrid region. At that time, some very big fairs in Spain were starting to promote regional items, and those of us in Madrid needed to join forces to be able to raise the profile of our products.
WSF.- What's your overall impression of the second decade at the helm of the association?
R.O.-ASEACAM has grown considerably in the period and has had to address changes in society and adapt to new demands. The associate food companies in Madrid have evolved and transformed, improving their products practically in parallel with consumer needs. As a result of the change in family structure in recent years and new cooking trends, we must compete in the most competitive market in Spain: Madrid.
WSF.- What does the future hold for ASEACAM and for the Madrid region's new M certified product project?
R.O.-ASEACAM has many challenges ahead of it: research, creating healthier products with a longer shelf life, international promotion, adapting to changes in purchasing habits, increasing dialogue with distribution, improving communication between the sector and shoppers, advancing collaboration with the administrations, etc. some of which can be improved with the M certified product label.
WSF.- The food sector in Madrid adds many jobs to the region. How have associates been affected by the crisis?
R.O.-The crisis has affected this strategic sector to a lesser degree than others, as everyone needs to eat. People can change their habits, they can eat out less frequently and buy less expensive products, but this is a sector that doesn't expand notably in economic booms, nor does it shrink excessively in economic downturns.
WSF.- ASEACAM associates produce all kinds of food. What are the main products produced by members?
R.O.-The association is a small-scale reflection of Madrid's food industry, and our associates are involved in all areas. The main sub-sectors are meat, pastries and baked goods, but there is also notable representation from sectors such as dairy, fish and prepared foods, the latter being one area with the greatest scope for future growth. Fresh, cured, cooked meat; yogurt, milk and cheese; chocolate and coffee; organic products, etc. You've got everything you need from the Madrid food industry.
WSF.- What role do supermarkets play in promoting food products from Madrid?
R.O.-Where do consumers shop? In supermarkets, shops, department stores, etc. The hospitality and foodservice segments indubitably serve the same products, but with the exception of a few items, like wine from Madrid, it's difficult to know where they came from. Understanding the provenance of products on the shelves when we decide what to buy.
WSF.-The number of tourists in Madrid continues to grow. What impact does Madrid's gastronomy have on tourism in the capital and, therefore, on the products you sell?
R.O.-Gastronomy is definitely an important part of tourism in Madrid. We must supply the foodservice segment with the quality products it needs, and that's why we're competitive, since we provide them with items quickly and at the right price. Renowned chefs in Madrid are also using our products. They have transformed them and used them in their restaurants to make a very good impression on tourists.
Today I venture to say that at least 50% of the products used in Madrid's medium-high end hospitality sector come from the capital.
WSF.- What role do new technologies and social media play in promoting regional products from Madrid?
R.O.-Society has changed very rapidly and new promotional models are going down the same path. Our sector aims to combine tradition and quality when preparing foods and to apply a promotional strategy that uses traditional channels, but which focuses especially on new technologies in the future.
WSF.- Organic products have become increasingly popular in recent years. How has that affected the association? Are any associates specialized in these types of items?
R.O.-All segments of the food industry are represented by leading companiesin ASEACAM, including the organic sector. El Horno de Leña is a leader in organic food, and we also have other companies with organic product lines, including coffee, canned foods, oils...