Mateu Hernández: “The food cluster headed by Mercabarna will improve the competitiveness of the companies that comprise it”

Interview with Mateu Hernández, Vice-Chair of Mercabarna for Barcelona City Council

What role does Barcelona City Council play within the Mercabarna body of shareholders?
It is the majority shareholder, with 51% of the shares. At a food site such as Mercabarna integrated by Barcelona wholesale food markets, which has to guarantee the supply of fresh produce to the city and its most immediate surroundings, it is important that the Council take the initiative because as it knows the city and its needs best.

What does Mercabarna contribute to the city and its inhabitants?
Mercabarna guarantees a broad and varied offer of fresh foods with the best price-quality relationship. Furthermore, it is a vital element in the development of the sales and restaurant industry sectors, and is an indispensable tool to ensure the values of our Mediterranean culture. But it also contributes other things…

Such as?
At Mercabarna, there are 800 companies in operation, where around 7,000 people work and approximately 25,000 professionals pass through the market each day. This makes the site a significant source of wealth for our city, and also an incredibly important centre of employment, along with exchanges of opportunities and knowledge, and business-related matters.

This is why it’s so important that the general public know what it is and what happens at Mercabarna!
It is essential that the public know and, above all, value what Mercabarna represents for the city and the work that the wholesalers do. How they search everywhere for fresh produce, how they transport it and conserve it so that it reaches us in the best possible conditions, and how specialised, added-value activities and services are carried out that facilitate the work of professionals and consumers.

What functions do the Council Sector for Economic Promotion perform and which companies form part of it?
This sector is responsible for stimulating economic growth in the city, working on aspects such as the creation and promotion of urban clusters, the internationalisation of companies, supporting existing companies, developing quality employment and new emerging sectors, the dissemination of new technologies, providing support to entrepreneurs, etc. Against this setting, firms and companies such as Mercabarna, the Barcelona Municipal Markets Institute, Barcelona22@, Barcelona Activa and also the City Council form part of the Barcelona Tourism Consortium.

How do you view the present and future of Mercabarna?
With great potential for the future. Mercabarna is the most important food cluster in the Mediterranean and functions very well. But we mustn't stand still. Nowadays, our society demands products that fulfil the requisites of convenience, flavour and health. For this reason, Mercabarna companies should work along the lines of R+D+i (research, development and innovation), evolving at the rhythm society sets and if possible, keeping one step ahead of the general public's needs. In this aspect, the BFP (Barcelona Food Platform) can play a highly significant role.

Why has Mercabarna been chosen to head the Barcelona food cluster?
There are two main reasons. One is the large concentration of new food sector ventures that operate in Mercabarna. The second is that Mercabarna is a fine example of the integration of different agents in the food distribution chain, given that the wholesale sector, the large-scale distribution sector, retail shops, producers, logistics companies, etc. can all be found in the same precinct. And this is of major importance, since the activities that are defined in the field of the cluster are designed to improve the competitiveness of all the chain representatives.