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Spain 2020 | AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

FIAB is tasked with digitalizing and revolutionizing every aspect of Spain's largest industry.

BIOGRAPHY

Tomás Pascual Gómez-Cuétara assumed the presidency of FIAB in 2017. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Alimentum Foundation and the Multisectoral Association of Food and Beverage Companies (AME), a member of the Business Action Council of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE), and vice president of AECOC, an association of manufacturers and distributors. He graduated as an industrial engineer from the Polytechnic University of Madrid and has a master's degree in management from the Sloan School of Management the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Spain's F&B sector generates 3.73 million jobs and almost EUR389 billion. What are some of the measures FIAB is taking to ensure the sector continues to grow in a sustainable way?
The main function of the F&B industry is to provide a wide range of products that meet all the safety and quality standards. To ensure this and to do so by promoting greater competitiveness across the sector, FIAB has specified the objectives of the sector in its strategic framework, the end goal of which is to promote the sector as a leader in Spanish industry. Under this roadmap, which we are now reinforcing and adapting to the new context, the sector seeks to grow in four vital areas: efficiency, value creation, internationalization, and dynamization. The industry is fully aware that compliance with each of these challenges must take into account measures for sustainable production. In addition, due to its transversality, we are one of the few sectors that can contribute positively to the achievement of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Innovation is one way to address these challenges. It enables us to increase the efficiency of the production and organizational processes, be more environmentally friendly, improve traceability, ensure the safety and quality of our food and beverages, and access new channels of distribution.

One of the priorities of FIAB is the internationalization of the Spanish food sector. What is your strategic plan for this?
In 2018, sales in the international market exceeded EUR30 billion. Strengthening the international positioning of companies and helping SMEs access international markets is a priority of FIAB. We have defined a series of priority markets for Spanish exports, namely the US, China, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK, and Canada. To further boost the exports sector, we have formed partnerships with organizations that carry out promotional activities through which international buyers can have a first-hand experience of Spanish products. This also involves moving toward new marketing channels, such as the Horeca sector and e-commerce.

FIAB aims to digitalize the food sector to innovate consumers' taste. How will digitalization empower businesses and consumers?
It is essential to digitalize the F&B industry. We are a traditional sector but one of the most innovative; however, greater effort is necessary for the full integration of digitalization, especially in SMEs. Through digitalization, we can revolutionize every area of the industry. We can create an intelligent industry where the digitized production and organizational processes will give rise to the improvement of communication between all parties. This is in addition to increased productivity, efficiency in the use of resources, the minimization of waste generation, and the sophistication of logistics. It also offers new opportunities in terms of distribution by accessing mechanisms that can put us in direct contact with the public. Big data is key to the management of any company. Big data can help us become more efficient and get closer to the reality of consumers, their tastes, interests, and consumption habits. We can control the safety and quality of food in all phases of a product and make decisions almost immediately. In short, it brings about flexibility, rapid adaptation, and transparency in the sector.

What are the main objectives of FIAB for 2020?
Apart from being Spain's first industrial sector, the F&B sector represents more than EUR116 billion in production, more than 30,000 companies, nearly half a million jobs, and a positive contribution of more than EUR8 billion to the trade balance. In the short term, FIAB will work to maintain a harmonized policy based on scientific evidence in nutrition and health that supports the market both nationally and internationally. It is extremely important at this point to bet on active communication to drive the recognition of the sector and its products. FIAB will also intensify efforts to make the sector more sustainable and to further internationalize, innovate, and digitalize it.