Do not play with food
Víctor Yuste Jordán - Managing Director of Foro Interalimentario
The meat industry is the fourth largest industrial sector in our country, with consolidated business groups throughout the national territory, with very good figures such as 2.32 of the total Spanish GDP, high employability, and exports of 3.2 million tons of meat, offal and processed products of all kinds in 2020. All this is supported by different livestock production models that have evolved to first class practices, professionalism, and efficiency.
We do not play with food and given the economic and social importance of the sector, we must avoid falling into the division of the sector and continue rowing all together towards the same direction, since all the production models in this country are legal, are recognized and each one, in its field, applies in the best possible way, good practices and the relevant codes.
Sowing controversy around food is not the best recipe to evolve and improve, everyone is, in the use of their freedom, be free to give their opinion and make decisions in their field of professional competence, but it requires responsibility and assume the consequences of their actions, considering that their decisions can seriously affect the livestock activity that takes place in Spain.
All initiatives and decisions in agri-food matters must be taken based on scientific rigor and science, and not on populism or subjective and personalistic criteria.
Nowadays and in our sector, the importance of communication is essential, so I encourage you to be loudspeakers, each in their field of action, to defend the agri-food sector without fissures, there are magnitudes of wealth, employment, rural development, the emptied Spain, culture, gastronomy, and human anthropology at stake.
It is not possible that we continue in this situation. Let's get our act together in a positive way and with the resilience that characterizes the sector, we will emerge strengthened, evolved, and empowered in the media.
In the omnichannel communication society, we cannot forget the care we must take in the image and messages received by the consumer, who is the target of each link in the agri-food chain and whose habits and food trends we have to satisfy. "It is up to us to go against the current, but without going out of our way, fulfilling our responsibility to guarantee the food supply to society.
The current situation of the sector is complex in terms of the challenge of sustainability (economic, social, and environmental) due to the bad and unreal image that is being transmitted. First, this sector is the most involved and interested in caring for the environment as it is its livelihood, but we must be aware that the first sustainability to be achieved is economic and for each of the links.
We must guarantee the economic sustainability of each of the links starting with the weakest, the primary sector, farmers, ranchers, and fishermen, because it is from them that the food that the industry transforms, and that the distribution makes available to the citizens comes from.
During the hard months of confinement in Spain, we have seen how the whole sector, working in an efficient chain, has been able to supply food, I do not want to think what would have happened if this had not been guaranteed. Without falling into autarky, perhaps we have been more aware of the importance of Spanish food sovereignty, local products, and own productions, dependent as little as possible on other countries.
Food policies and strategies, respecting the different ideologies and sensibilities, must be aligned with agricultural production policies. We should not go down different paths because confrontation and controversy will be permanent. If there is one thing the agri-food sector needs, it is tranquillity, legal certainty and to be allowed to work, applying the highest standards of food safety, environmental, competitiveness and innovation.
We have in Spain the highest and most demanding food safety standards in the world, inspectors in public health and animal and plant health that verify each one of the aspects and parameters of our productions, we have certifications in animal welfare, imposed by the sector itself and more demanding than the Spanish and European regulations, which is audited by independent bodies and, even so, we receive criticism.
Something is going wrong, we are not doing something right, but what is certain is that the agri-food sector will not tire of working, evolving, and innovating to continue producing healthy, safe and quality food.