Innovative products ‘made in Mercabarna’

17th March 2008

Alimentaria is now unquestionably one of the world’s leading food trade fairs. The close to 160,000 agro-food professionals from the world over who took part in this year’s event (4% more than in 2006), its 130,000 m2 of exhibition space and 5,000 exhibiting companies (1,500 of which were foreign) attest to this.
Mercabarna was amply represented by its stand at Restaurama, its participation in different activities, its sponsoring of some of the trade fair events and, above all, by the more than 20 Food Unit companies that took part on an individual basis.

Mercabarna played an active role at this year’s Alimentaria, held in Barcelona on 10-14 14 March, with a joint stand with Barcelona City Hall and the Municipal Markets Institute at Restaurama (in the Montjuïc precinct). With the slogan, “Barcelona: all food colours. We are what we eat so let’s be natural”, the purpose of this venue was to promote fresh produce as a symbol of high quality and source of good health.
The stand’s excellent location –at the entrance of BCN Vanguàrdia, the venue specialising in culinary demonstrations– prompted numerous professionals, especially those in the restaurant sector, to become interested in Mercabarna and the precinct firms that could supply them with produce.

The stand also became a meeting point for agro-food sector professionals, thanks to two functions, presided over by Jordi William Carnes, deputy mayor with responsibility for Finance and Economic Promotion and chair of Mercabarna: one to discuss the city as capital of the food industry, and the other to honour the late journalist and gastronome, Llorenç Torrado.

More innovative products for restaurants

The hospitality sector is on the rise. Proof of this lies in the fact that, this year, Restaurama –the venue devoted to this segment – doubled its exhibition space over 2006. Aware of the opportunities offered by this market, 10 Mercabarna companies decided to take part this year.
The fish sector outfit Catalana de Peixos participated in the trade fair for the first time. It presented its new range of controlled-atmosphere packed fish, which lasts 10 days in the refrigerator without losing its quality. Manager Jaume Flamerich pointed out, “Being here at this fair gives us a major opportunity to publicise our products and latest developments, not only to our regular customers but also to potential ones.”

It was also the first time for Azanova, middle agents for the Fish Market. Yolanda Rodríguez, director of the Commercial Department, said, “We’re presenting a new line of packaged, partially prepared products which we began working on just recently, to simplify our customers’ work.” These products included frozen pasta, fruit and mushroom salads and mini hamburgers for restaurants, as well as fish burgers for school menus.

Also focusing on greater service to restaurateurs, Maresmar maximised its presence at the show to launch ‘La general marisquera’, a new brand on the market. As its director Mario Montaña explained, “We’ve created this new company division to elaborate ‘culinary aids’, with seafood bases for chefs. We’ve got small crab stuffing, lobster broth or ‘black rice’ broth base.” Mr Montaña stressed that chef Jean Luc Figueras made the dishes with a differential characteristic: “They’re not ‘prepared dishes’. Instead they’ve been created so that every chef can add his or her own personal touch.”

The frozen seafood company Pescados P.C.S, exhibited a new line of “mini products” for catered events, featuring mini brochettes and ‘lollypops’ made up of two intertwined king prawns.
Mushrooms were also prominent, courtesy of Express Catering. The firm presented its range of deep-frozen dehydrated mushrooms, for use in haute cuisine, which last up to two years without losing their aroma, flavour or texture.

Other Food Unit firms, such as Catalana de Cocinados, Makro and Miquel Alimentación also showcased their product offers: Catalana de Cocinados, with its ready-to-eat dishes; Makro, which accented its fresh produce sections and wines; and Miquel Alimentación, with its broad range of products for the hospitality sector.

Intercarne’s star product: filleted meats

“Ten years ago, all of the meat company stands hung up a dressed veal carcass and that was that. Now everything is filleted, in packages, vacuum-packed, and so on.” Using this example, Ramon Prior, manager of the Mercabarna firm Carnes Prior explained how Alimentaria has become the clearest proof of how the meat sector has evolved. Now the focus is on the filleted product, controlled weight –to prevent waste– and ready-to-cook ranges.
This was typified by the Mercabarna meat companies in attendance: Carnes B, Carnes Catalana–Pallejà, Carnes Prior, Compañía General Carnia, Drominia, Productos 5è Quart, Sucarn and La Charcutería Alemana (Shara).

Ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables

Consumers place a high premium on products that are convenient and quick and easy to prepare and eat. With this in mind, Cutting’s –a firm that specialises in the handling and packaging of fruits and vegetables for the restaurant sector– presented, within the framework of the Vegefruit venue, a new range of peeled and chopped fruit and vegetable products which will be distributed through supermarkets. And, to tempt consumers even further, the firm has devised a new ‘single serving’ format (in fruit brochettes, celery, carrot and courgette sticks) for vending machines in cinemas, schools, companies, etc.
The Laumont company exhibited its broad range of fresh, frozen and dehydrated mushrooms for restaurants at the same event.
In addition, the seafood company Otabarna, present at the Interpesca show, presented its cooked and prepared seafood offer for restaurants and a novel product for adventurous palates: sea urchin meat.

Mercabarna has recently collaborated with...

The store of the future
Consumers change. They want new formats (individual portions), new products (ready-to-eat), they have less time for shopping, etc. This will make it necessary for food stores to make sweeping changes to serve this new customer profile. For this reason, Innoval– which spotlighted the latest sector innovations –recreated the store of the future.
Mercabarna advised the organisers of the show concerning the fruit section, in which five of its firms provided innovative products: Torribas, potatoes that can be cooked in just 7 minutes in the microwave; Cutting’s, with mezclum salads made with 10 different types of leaves; Cultivar, with unusual tropical fruits; Guzmán, with bonsai vegetables; and Laumont, with different varieties of mushrooms.

“Spain, the country of the 100 cheeses”
Mercabarna provided the salads and the fruit for the cheese tasting session in this venue, an Alimentaria initiative.

VII International Congress on the Mediterranean Diet
Mercabarna expressed its commitment to healthy eating by sponsoring this congress, which drew over 200 experts on health and food safety from around the world.

VII International Food Forum
Mercabarna’s managing director, Jordi Maymó, took part in the panel discussion following the presentation of the study, “Demands by the Purchaser of the Future”, in which Josep Maria Bonmatí, managing director of the Spanish Association of Commercial Codification (AECOC), and Jaime Rodríguez Bertiz, president of Euromadi, also took part.