BASQUE FOOD CLUSTER celebrates 15 years boosting the competitiveness and value of Basque food companies

Bizkaia, News

The Eguna 2024 Cluster brings together more than 400 professionals from the entire food value chain.

Over the last 15 years, the food sector has positioned itself among the strategic sectors of the Basque Country, contributing 9.37% of GDP and 13.58% of employment.

Cluster Eguna 2024, the event organised annually by BASQUE FOOD CLUSTER, which serves as a meeting point for professionals from the entire Basque food value chain, has served to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the sector’s benchmark association, which brings together almost 150 companies and organisations. The event brought together more than 400 people for a professional day that also provided an opportunity to look to the future of the Basque food sector, putting on the table the main challenges that its companies must face in order to remain competitive in the market.

Founded in 2009 under the name of Cluster de Alimentación de Euskadi (Basque Food Cluster) and with a membership base of around thirty companies, the association has experienced significant growth in qualitative and quantitative terms over the last 15 years, becoming the benchmark organisation in the Basque food value chain. From its role as a catalyst, it has boosted the harmonisation of a previously dispersed and scattered sector, managing to place it among the strategic sectors of the Basque Country, given that it currently contributes 9.37% of Basque GDP and 13.58% of employment (more than 137,000 direct jobs).

Today, there are already 148 companies and entities associated with BASQUE FOOD CLUSTER, the new corporate identity of the association launched in 2022. These firms belong to all the links in the food value chain -from the primary sector to the HORECA channel-, and, through a participatory process, have identified a decalogue of challenges to overcome in order to boost their competitiveness, included in the 2024-2027 Strategic Plan that will guide the association’s actions during this period.

The first of the challenges refers to the size of the sector in the Basque Country, where the vast majority of companies are SMEs, and their resources are limited in order to compete in a global market. Business consolidation and growth are therefore essential to strengthen the position of Basque companies in the global market.

Likewise, size is relevant when it comes to tackling another of the challenges mentioned, such as the legislative complexity arising from new environmental requirements. Convinced that sustainability must be a fundamental pillar in all food activities, companies are demanding flexibility and facilities to deal with all the bureaucratic procedures required of them.

Another of the challenges relates to talent as an essential element to make generational change possible. In this sense, the 2024-2027 Strategic Plan urges companies to commit to the development of motivating career plans that involve their staff and make them participants in their successes, with the aim of making the food industry an attractive environment in which people can develop dignified and enriching life projects.

Strengthening the presence in international markets, promoting the digitalisation of the entire value chain, fostering knowledge of consumers and their needs as a guide to orientate innovation, and encouraging the alignment of the entire food ecosystem to tackle challenges in a comprehensive and coordinated manner are other of the main challenges identified by the BASQUE FOOD CLUSTER companies.

Professional conference

In his introduction to the conference, the President of BASQUE FOOD CLUSTER, Manu Giner, celebrated the growth experienced by the association in its 15 years of existence. “We have worked tirelessly to position the Basque food sector where it deserves to be, at the forefront of innovation, quality and business know-how. This Cluster Eguna, as well as a reason for celebration and pride, is also a testimony to our ongoing commitment to food excellence and the competitiveness of our companies”, he said.

This was followed by the presentation ‘Perspectives of the food sector in the face of the change of cycle: From price defence to volume growth’, given by César Valencoso, director of Consumer Insights at Kantar Worldpanel. This was followed by a round table discussion, moderated by the Director of BASQUE FOOD CLUSTER, Jon Ander Egaña, which brought together the heads of three leading organisations in their respective fields of activity: Rosa Carabel, CEO of the Eroski Group; Santiago Ortiz de Zárate, Managing Director of Conservas Ortiz; and Juan Carlos Antolín, President of SEA Hostelería. The professional conference was brought to a close by the Basque Government’s Regional Minister for Economic Development, Sustainability and the Environment, Arantxa Tapia.


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