The end of the administrative concession of the Food Unit in 2032 and how to tackle the new Food Chain Law are some of the key questions that ASOMAFRUT has on the table.
Fruit Today had the chance to talk to the manager of the Asociación de Empresarios Mayoristas del Mercado Central de Frutas de Madrid (ASOMAFRUT), Santiago Blázquez.
What are ASOMAFRUT’s considerations regarding the expiry of the concessions in 2032?
It is one of the most important questions in our strategic plan. At present, we are looking at the way to extend the administrative authorisations for a reasonable period that allows companies to maintain their level of investment. Their main assets are the market stands and the current uncertain situation is making investment difficult and this affects the customers.
It is a subject that we have studied in depth and that has a difficult legal solution. Given that it involves the entire Food Unit of Mercamadrid, we are carrying out joint actions from CASEM (Confederación de Asociaciones Empresariales de Mercamadrid) to make the procedures more flexible.
Additionally, it is a problem that is common to all the central markets in the Mercasa network and in many of them it has yet to be resolved, therefore, we are also all working jointly in the Confederación Nacional de Empresarios Mayoristas de Frutas y Hortalizas de España (COEMFE), of which ASOMAFRUT is the current chairman.
Have you held meetings with the City Council?
Yes, we have been holding meetings with the different municipal teams for some time now and the Governing Board of CASEM has passed on to the current chairman of Mercamadrid and the councillor in the Area of the Economy, the importance of finding a solution to the administrative concession to ensure the continuity of the Food Unit and to carry on offering a quality public service.
In fact, the chairman of Mercamadrid has undertaken to analyse all the possible solutions to ensure its continuity beyond 2032 and propose a feasible roadmap within a reasonable time.
Mercamadrid is a mixed company, rather than a public one. Does this set out any problems?
Mercamadrid S.A. is participated in by the Madrid City Council, Mercasa and a percentage of minority shareholders, basically belonging to the old producer cooperatives. One possibility would be, as has happened with other wholesale markets, turning this mixed company into a public one to ensure Mercamadrid’s indefinite lifespan. This transformation would not automatically mean that the administrative authorisations of our members’ stands (which expire in 2032) would become indefinite.
Are you telling me that the current legal formula could involve the disappearance of Mercamadrid?
With the current regulations, the corporate life of Mercamadrid, S.A. ends in 2032. Although we understand and this has been confirmed to us by all the parties involved, that whatever the legal solution that is finally found for the problem, the public service must be maintained.
Now more than ever before, society is appreciating its usefulness and the need to ensure the public supply service of the city of Madrid.
How does the new Food Chain Law affect you?
In general, the reform of the Law has put the emphasis on the important amount of red tape that the wholesalers have been dealing with, along with aspects that are difficult to reconcile at present, such as the freedom of the market and the basic principles of supply and demand.
We think that the need to reference the minimum production cost could prove to be a problem for all the operators, including the farmers themselves.
In short, the law could favour import operations, where this regulation does not apply.
The Association is going to present allegations in view of the future preliminary draft bill in order that the reality of the wholesale markets is regulated, including the regulation of commission contracting and the inclusion of the Horeca channel within the scope of the Chain Law.
What other projects are you looking at?
We continue to work to promote projects and actions that allow competitiveness to be gained by the wholesale companies. Along these lines, we want the infrastructures of the Central Market to be adapted to the current customer requirements, as well as offering logistics and cold storage solutions and ensuring a safe environment throughout our space, reducing the problems of mobility inside the facilities, along with safety and labour risks.
In short, we are working to help the members to digitalise their companies and adapt to the challenges of the new competitive environment.