What are the Future Challenges for the Foodservice Sector?

Around 60 people who work in the foodservice sector, half from Mercabarna firms and the rest from outside the Market, met in Mercabarna on 19 January to attend the second conference on the Stimulus Plan for the Foodservice Cluster of Catalonia, where the key points for the future of the sector were analysed.

The speaker Josep M. Vallsmadella, a consultant who specialises in the foodservice channel, revealed the impact the economic downturn is having on the hospitality sector. “Sales are down by 14%, basically because consumers have reduced expenditure on out-of-home leisure,” he explained. “This is forcing restaurants to lower prices, adjust costs, rationalise stocks and take other measures.”

Mr Vallsmadella said the situation was also affecting suppliers, who will “have to change their sales strategies”. He listed a number of steps distributors should take to ensure future success. These included increasing their size and boosting alliances with other companies, expanding their product offer (as restaurants are generally cutting down on their number of suppliers) and not competing on price but rather by offering customer-targeted solutions (recipes, innovations, reducing administration costs, etc.).

A number of sector firms also discussed their experiences at the day-long event. Sodexo, a firm that serves group customers, spoke of its purchasing policy and what it seeks from suppliers. The cash and carry firm Makro outlined the new strategy it has adopted as a result of the downturn, based on developing a sales team to hit the streets in search of customers and to offer them solutions. Finally, Marcilla Coffee Systems explained its business alliance with the Mahou-San Miguel Group and summarised the pros and cons of this type of commercial agreement.

The conference ended with a roundtable session featuring Guzmán Gastronomía general manager Joaquim Arazanz and the owner of the ANGrup restaurant group, Artemi Nolla, who discussed the measures their firms have taken to handle the effects of the downturn.

Next meeting Scheduled for 9 February

Mercabarna will host the third conference in the Stimulus Plan for the Foodservice Cluster of Catalonia on 9 February, which will address logistics.

The conference will include a speech on competitive edges in logistics and feature case studies presented by the operators Logifrío and GCT Hispania and the Eat&Out restaurant group.

A strategic seminar entitled “Logistics as a Competitive Edge Tool” will be held from 22 to 25 February to discuss the issue in more depth, as part of the Stimulus Plan.

Further information at: www.mercabarna.cat/foodservice