The Food Fair will close this Thursday in Barcelona its 23rd edition marked by the consequences of the war in Ukraine and the galloping inflation that is already affecting the sector. The industry admits that it has increased its prices, although it assumes that there will be a time when the consumer will begin to reduce their shopping basket as they cannot afford an amount much higher than that of just a few weeks ago. One of the main businessmen of the pork sector in Spain, who asks not to be identified, even ventures to predict that after this crisis of raw materials and energy, only those with a sufficient economic cushion will survive.
Nearly 3,000 companies have shown, since last Monday, their novelties at the Fira de Barcelona venue on Gran Vía de L’Hospitalet. The show was also attended by 1,400 buyers from the main supermarket chains in Spain and the distribution chains in the US and Latin America. In total, it is estimated that around 1,200 business meetings have been held. Companies, therefore, have been able to take the temperature of the sector. And the fever now is due above all to the high inflation experienced by the main economies, including Spain. According to the National Statistics Institute (INE), this rose to 9.8% in March.
Sergi Ferrer, director of the sales team of the Chocolates Torras Exports department, maintains that his company has been betting on local products and alternative energies for years. It has not been enough to overcome the rise in prices: “There is a shortage of some materials. The oil is very expensive and that has ended up affecting the cost of our products. So far we haven’t raised prices for two years but we haven’t had another option but to increase them by between 3% and 5%”, he explains. Just a few weeks ago a tablet with 72% cocoa was sold to the distributor for 0.55 euros, while now it is for 0.57 euros. “We have not reduced the grammage, we maintain the quality and size of our products because we are clear that we will never deceive consumers,” he adds.
Also Eduardo Pérez, responsible for Exports of the brand of snacks and nuts Churruca, affirms that he suffers from the increase in the cost of raw materials. However, he believes that the entire chain has been stressed. “In Churruca we are analyzing week by week and we are correcting ourselves because a time has come when we cannot assume all the costs. With cereals we are suffering from fierce speculation. Our corn is national but the fact is that with the war in Ukraine its price has skyrocketed”, he laments. “Another of the injustices are the cost overruns of the shipping companies. Sending a container to New York cost 2,000 euros a few months ago and is now worth 15,000. I have already warned my clients there about this extra cost and if they want Churruca they will have to pay for it”, he warns.
The cooked ham and sausage company La Selva brings novelties to Alimentaria such as vegetarian charcuterie. Its president, Xavier Albertí, explains: “We are buying the pig and the rest of the raw material at a very expensive price, energy is through the roof and transport is at exorbitant rates. We only hope that the chains will be understanding of the minimum price increase that we have added to our products. We had no other.” Albertí reveals that, in addition to energy and diesel, the price of cereals has also risen, which has a direct impact on livestock for feed.
Pork producer entrepreneurs prefer to remain anonymous in a sector with fierce competition and with the raw material, feed, skyrocketing. “Production costs have been going up since July 2020, when Ukraine suffered a brutal drought and that pushed up the price of grain. Other countries like France and Germany did their homework well and the rise is not being noticed as much. In Spain, the price increase was not gradual and now it has given us full blown”, say sources in the sector.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
The other strategy is to use less of these raw materials. It is told by Marta Gutiérrez, from the Calvo preserves Marketing team. The entire company is concerned about the situation. “Raw materials are rising so much that we cannot maintain the price. In each can we maintain the weight of the tuna, but we have reduced the amount of oil. First, because much of this oil the customer ended up throwing down the drain. And, second, because of the abusive price of the oil market”, she assures.