Meléndez: “Demand for natural produce will become a trend”


The post-confinement future is an open scenario, in which potatoes as natural food, full of nutrients, could play an essential role in the diet.

Fruit Today talked about this topic and others with the entrepreneur Javier Meléndez.

How do you see the post-coronavirus panorama? Could it be a great opportunity to consolidate the public viewpoint that potatoes, with all their intrinsic properties, are also low calorie food?

According to the media and the feelings raised by the behaviour we are seeing, it seems that we are going to see a return to natural foods, prepared by ourselves and to more varied diets, with more comprehensive nutritional values. Potatoes are in this range of trends. I also think that possibilities of offering new products will open up, along with a growth of online business.

Will food safety rule out the sale of loose potatoes?

Loose potatoes have the same food safety standards as potatoes in the current containers.

Additionally, our produce is subsequently cooked, therefore there is no danger involved from the point of view of eating safety.

However, we should emphasise that a rise or drop in their consumption will depend on the new shopping habits that could occur due to the situation we are living through.

I think that on this point different factors will come into play, such as spending power, consumption inside or outside the home, online shopping, decrease in plastic containers and their subsequent management, etc.

Are local potatoes becoming more popular while it seems that we are moving towards de-globalisation?

It is obvious that the demand for natural produce has been added to the demand for local produce. If consumers see their expectations met regarding quality and price, they will look for local produce because they also want to protect the environment and this produce helps reduce the carbon footprint. Traceability, source and proximity are conditions that have become a priority for everyone. Therefore, I also believe that there will be a greater demand for potatoes produced in Spain. A goal on which Meléndez has been working on for many years, and in recent years we have considerably extended the volume of potatoes from Spain, and we are still working on it.

I think you understood the message very well regarding the sacrifice made by your people and they received an emotional tribute after the significant peak of demand that occurred in March.

The staff at Patatas Meléndez has proved beyond doubt their capacity for effort and sacrifice. They respect the hygiene and safety measures that are being given. They carry out their work with great professionalism, giving their all.

It would not be possible to talk about what we are living through at the moment without acknowledging that I am proud to work with people as committed as our farmers, collaborators, freighters, shelf-stockers and employees from all the distribution chains. The National Police Force, the Guardia Civil, the Municipal Police Force and the Firemen all have come to our factory in Medina del Campo to express their warm appreciation. We have felt that it was like the clapping by all the citizens and that they are very thankful that food is guaranteed in our country due to the effort being made by the sector.

The Spanish potato sector is experiencing a time of consolidation and investment and you are the leading company in Castilla y León. What are your ultimate objectives with the purchase of Integral Potato?

This acquisition forms part of Patatas Meléndez’s growth strategy, which has made an important investment in these new installations, in a clear commitment towards our implantation in the region of Medina del Campo. With this acquisition, we have added another 5,200 m² to our 24,000 m² of installations, which means an increase in production capacity of around 30%. This acquisition is allowing us to intensify the production to guarantee the supply to all our customers.

The company has undertaken an important task in terms of solidarity, which fits in very well as the CSR of an important company. What has it consisted of exactly?

We have been very clear about our commitment to food, also from the Corporate Social Responsibility point of view. We are a necessity commodity and this was the spotlight that has marked out our course during this crisis. We decided to look for allies capable of distributing kilos of potatoes amongst those who needed them the most. Therefore, we joined the Food Bank, the Community and City Council of Madrid. We have already delivered over 100,000 kilos of potatoes and we will continue collaborating periodically with them over the next weeks.

The Field Hospital set up in the Ifema exhibition centre is another of the areas where we have wanted to do our bit. We took our food truck there, placing it at the disposal of the healthcare workers, volunteers and professionals of all types who are working on the front line. We are supplying food every day to all those working there.

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