David Chica: “Mercabarna has a great future, but we must be imaginative and not rest upon our laurels."

David Chica, first Vice-President of Mercabarna for Mercasa

Can you explain to us what Mercasa is and what it does?
Mercasa operates as a public service in the food chain via shared management with the Councils of the 23 Merca Network Food Units. We work on programmes to remodel municipal retail markets where Mercasa is a point of national and international reference, we develop policies of food safety and traceability, and monitor price and market activities to contribute to a more transparent and competitive food chain.

What part does Mercasa play in the Mercabarna body of shareholders?
It must never be forgotten that the creation of Mercabarna and its subsequent growth and recognition has been possible thanks to the ongoing collaboration between Mercasa and the rest of the shareholders. Mercasa has always been a loyal partner, fully committed to the development of the company and has fully engaged in developing the influential presence that Mercabarna has in Catalonia and the whole of Spain.

The Mercas network is made up of 23 Food Units in Spain. What synergies are created among them?
Communication between Mercasa and the Mercas is permanent. Mercasa is what gives it the sense of a network, playing a relevant coordination role, promoting technical meetings where topics that are causing concern are discussed along with new projects.

With regard to this, what can Mercabarna contribute to the rest of the Mercas and what can they contribute to Mercabarna?
Mercabarna is a point of reference for all the Mercas. Its pioneering status – it was one of the first Mercas that started up –, the enormous energy and drive of the operating companies, and the solid commitment of the wholesalers to the future of the company contribute to this. An example here is the design of a model to guarantee the future viability of the company, resolving any doubts over its limited duration.

One of the areas in which Mercasa actively works is in gaining international recognition and promotion. To what degree does this benefit Mercabarna?
Our model has extensive international recognition, reasserted by the World Union of Wholesale Markets. And this generates a growing demand for technical assistance and project design in other countries. MERCASA channels this demand, always with the collaboration of the Mercas. Amongst the most important ventures underway at present, special mention should be made of the development of a large wholesale complex in Luanda, Angola, new projects in the Dominican Republic, and technical assistance in other South American countries and the north of Africa, and even China. Furthermore, Mercasa has signed an agreement with the Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AECID) to incorporate projects to improve commercial structures.

In theses times of economic uncertainty, how do you view the present and the immediate future of Mercabarna?
With optimism. The public management of Mercabarna and the capacity shown by the approximately 800 companies that operate in its facilities provide great support to help overcome any economic uncertainty. However we need to be imaginative and not rest on our laurels. And I’m talking about a collective effort, shared between Mercasa, Mercabarna, wholesale companies and all those who, as business men and women, staff or users, make Mercabarna work every day.

What projects does Mercasa have in relation to the Mercas network?
Mercasa always seeks innovation. We are now developing a novel project on the management of reusable packaging for fruit and vegetables, carrying out a preliminary study at Mercabarna. We are also promoting taking advantage of the Mercas facilities to put photovoltaic energies into practice and improve environmental management.
Another project that we will develop in 2009 is a study on trade flow and other areas of the Merca influence. Our concern is not so much in getting to know our clients, but rather, and principally, locating potential customers who are not yet clients but who should be.

The Council has suggested that Mercabarna should lead the city’s food cluster. What benefits will this bring to the companies in the Food Unit precinct?
The objective of the cluster is to improve the competitiveness of the companies that form part of it. It will operate on three axes: technological innovation, training and internationalisation. If Mercabarna heads this cluster it's clear that the companies located in this Food Unit will be able to contribute their experience when it comes to designing and improving the cluster, and they will discover first-hand all the advantages that this signifies.