Pau Roca, who is very pleased to have FENAVIN as a partner in the Wine in Moderation initiative, recommends that wineries make a painstaking preparation for their upcoming presence on the next edition of the trade fair
Pau Roca, Secretary General of the Spanish Wine Federation and right-hand man of Félix Solís, President of the strongest and most representative organization of the national wine sector, is highly confident in FENAVIN's workings, representing as it does an initiative in which at first he did not believe in, this back in 2001, although now he recommends that all those wineries that want to optimize their national and international business possibilities should prepare a painstaking presentation, as he duly explains in the following interview.
1. Right before the fifth edition of the Trade Fair, towards the beginning of 2009, you commented in an interview that "the wine sector is in need of a Spanish wine trade fair; even more so, each country should have its own national fair and our trade fair is FENAVIN. Here at the Spanish Wine Federation we have made a strong wager on it." Following the celebration of the fifth edition and, now, when the sixth edition is just set to start, how do you evaluate FENAVIN and its perspectives in an economic climate such as the one we are currently undergoing?
It is precisely because the current situation is so negative that we must feel very proud to be able to celebrate this trade fair and of the fact that we have not backed down and withdrawn, and on top of that the data we handle indicates that we continue to grow in a frankly adverse context. FENAVIN has been capable of finding its place in the wine trade fair market and we are closely monitoring its positive development because FENAVIN in itself is a tool for the sector's success.
2. What does the signing of the first agreement of collaboration between the FEV and FENAVIN represent for you?
Having a partner such as FENAVIN in our WIM project is a great opportunity for us, as this is a long-term strategic plan aimed at maintaining wine consumption.
3. What is the reaction of the sector in that pertaining to the European 'Wine in Moderation' initiative?
Well, during the first phase the plan itself involves promoting the WIM concept within the sector itself, because an important level of conviction is necessary so that all the sector agents will become involved. The difference between our sector and others is the important territorial, population, emblematic and ideological strength, which wine carry along. Hence the first objective always was and is ourselves, that is, we must convince ourselves that we produce and sell a legitimate and healthy product, while in turn we must be aware of the risks of being misunderstood and the cultural shock with which we are confronted in a global world, in a world in which no distinction is made between alcoholic drinks, while we are indeed aware that these are two very different worlds.
Once we reach the cruiser phase and in the measure that we start having more resources, then we can turn into "missionaries", although for the time being we must be ourselves, in Spain, in La Mancha, in each and every neighborhood, we must be moderate consumers of wine and we must set an example on how to behave and put wine back into style.
4. In your case, since you are in permanent contact with the wine sector and you are quite aware of its needs, how is the sector enduring this long period of crisis? What are the main challenges facing the wine sector in this unfavorable economic situation?
On the one hand we have to keep in mind that the wine sector has been enduring a domestic crisis in consumption for many years now and, therefore, in comparison with other productive sectors ours has been suffering for a long time and the wine producers and wineries are the ones that notice it the most, as they have to continuously adjust their margins and costs. Although, on the other hand, the fact that we have been around for much longer makes us somewhat more robust, with foreign markets in which we have had to dedicate ourselves in full due to the lack of domestic consumption, while in turn developing more advanced strategies. We can sort of say that we are more sustainable, more prepared, because our sector has never been an easy money sector, nor has it ever undergone surprising growth. As in the fable, in the wine sector the strategy that has been followed has been that of the ant and the grasshopper.
5. The latest data from the Spanish Wine Market Observatory in that concerning growth indicate a growth in volume, although less so in value. How do you evaluate this information? What are the reasons behind the fact that value is developing at a slower rate than volume?
Said data is obtained from a conglomerate of items and sub-items that must be analyzed in more detail. I am quite aware of the nature and statistical composition of the OEMV's data, because they follow the same design that the FEV has been working out, based on the information obtained from the Directorate General of Customs and that has barely changed. Spain can indeed be very competitive in the international setting. We can say that the space that Spanish wine is gaining in this analyzed period is based on reducing prices, but it doesn't have to be like this, because in my experience there is sometimes a greater impact due to immediate and momentary exports that tend to disguise the sustained rates pertaining to trends. Even more so, if we analyze the November data, we can see an upturn in value. We really should wait until the year is closed to obtain conclusions, although in general we can anticipate that it is being confirmed that the Spanish sector can bear a reduction in costs far better than other sectors, although if applied to wine this is not actually true.
6. Everybody is talking about the great perspectives in exporting to the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and Canada). Do you really believe that they are this important for development of Spanish exports or that this is merely a trend?
Quite clearly they represent the future global and consumption market and this is likewise the case for wine. However, we must keep in mind that there are many difficulties and restrictions involved with these countries, which require great effort and perseverance, but it is more than clear that these are the countries where millions of people with purchasing power are to be found. This is an objective piece of data, not an opinion. Unfortunately in these countries we also find producers such as France, Italy, Chile, etc., which are doing far more than most of our Spanish companies, save a few exceptions that we know about.
Data on wine consumption in Spain still stands at very low levels, despite the upturn seen in the last few months. The FEV, precisely on November 30th, presented an application for subsidy in order to carry out a wide-ranging campaign on wine in Spain in the 2011-2013 period to the Ministry of the Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs, objective of which is to invest in advertising and actions in the consumer channels for an annual value of one million Euros in Spain. What are the short and medium term goals that are pursued with campaigns such as this one?
The main goal on the short-term is to start-up a sort of mechanism of collaboration between the sector's institutions: Conference of Regulation Councils, Tierra de Viñedos Foundation, the FEV (Spanish Wine Federation) and the MARM (Ministry of the Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs), the same in order to respond to the process of decomposition in Spanish consumption with specific actions, as it is reaching limits that can absolutely marginalize wine consumption, to the point of endangering its legitimate space in our society. In as far as the long-term objective is concerned, which will be achieved by way of continuous investment and by reinforcing this schematic collaboration, the idea is to invert the tendency in consumption on the one hand and to also provide an appropriate solution to the problems that Spanish society has involving alcohol, in particular among the younger generation that does not know how to drink. Therefore, on the long term we want to represent an instrument that promotes public health in matters involving alcohol, because we are convinced that with education in wine consumption we will contribute to reducing the serious problem that exists amongst Spain's youth.
7. Right, then if we take all this into account, what advice would you give to those who are set to participate in FENAVIN 2011?
My advice is that they painstakingly prepare their participation in the trade fair, that they make their intention of being at FENAVIN known to the clients or suppliers, that they work on their contacts and interviews far in advance and ensure that they close their agendas beforehand. Sometimes in our country we tend to leave things open to improvisation and then things go wrong. We must be well prepared, with transport and restaurant reservations duly made, etc. All of this is important so that things will go well and so that we can receive our clients as they deserve, so that they will know where to park or so that they will be clear on who is picking them up at the station, that there is good shuttle transport service available, etc.