Alberto Palmí, manager of the Spanish Federation of Wooden Containers and their components (FEDEMCO in its Spanish initials), summarises the activities of this federation over these years.
This year Fedemco will reach its 30th anniversary. What is your assessment up to this date? What point have wooden containers reached?
We have been defending sustainable containers and the application of ‘clean manufacturing technologies’ for three decades. Thirty years endorsed with different quality certificates for our containers, resistance, elasticity and the certified source of the wood used in our products. But above all, the way our containers take care of the products they transport, with the fruit and vegetable sector standing out, where the wood not only offers resistance and protection for the fruit, but its properties lengthen the shelf life of the produce and allows it to reach the point of sale in perfect condition.
It is a good moment for wood and for our sector. The new European directives talk about the circular bio-economy, an idea where wood is a flagship; about reducing the EU’s dependence on imported resources and in this case, our wood is grown in Spain or in European community countries; or about protecting human health, the notorious carbon footprint.
Recently you have signed collaboration agreements with important Associations in the sector (Poma de Girona, Cítricos Valencianos, Kaki Ribera del Xúquer…) in favour of sustainability. Are these synergies a sign of what is to come?
We believe in synergies as the way to become stronger and better. Our collaboration relations cover different circumstances, ecological associations, PGIs, cooperatives, national and international employer associations and we want to use these synergies to supply these entities with our complete catalogue, making it into a collaboration to boost both products and in some cases, to show users where the container goes once it has been used.
The current concern about the environment is a chance to develop wooden containers. How is Fedemco going to take advantage of this movement?
Society has been requesting wood for some time now, but now we could say it is being demanded. Finding an agrifood product in a wooden container has a series of connotations associated with it for end consumers. The best fruit and vegetables are always supplied in wooden containers.
These are the ones that are valued best by the end customers and for this reason, for the past few years, we have been very focused on sales unit containers, ranging from the 2kg pitufo® type to 200 g trays.
How has the Association evolved over the past few years?
Concepts such as circular economy, recycling and sustainability, almost essential in industry in the 21st century, were already very present in the container sector in the last century. However, the lack of a wide-ranging, globalised view of the market kept these container SMEs relegated to the background, in spite of being the main containers of agrifood produce on markets such as Germany for over 30 years.
FEDEMCO was created in this context and with the need to increase the value of these concepts, and it moved on, alongside the other European employer associations to finance the GROW International Network (Group Recycling of Wood).
Regarding our associates, they are powerful industries, where family-run SMEs hold an important place, but which are adapted to the new times: modern, technological, digitalised, meeting the European guidelines on circular economy and a consolidated recycling system.