The meat industry resolutely faces the challenges of a complex environment
The Spanish meat industry and the value chain as a whole are facing economic, productive, social and regulatory challenges, which will undoubtedly mark the sector's development in the short and medium term at a key moment.
A tight summary of these challenges should at least cover the following items, which are already playing a major role in the strategic decisions of companies in the sector:
- The inflationary situation unleashed at international level since Russia began its aggression against Ukraine a year ago, with the consequent increase in the price of inputs, raw materials, energy supplies and final products.
- The sharp decline in pork sales to China (almost 50% in 2022 as a whole), once the Asian giant has overcome African swine fever and revived its production potential.
- The regulatory challenges and adaptations entailed for the different sectors by the Farm to Fork Strategy, the Green Deal and the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
- The foreseeable virtuous influence of the European Union's Next Generation funds, through the Perte in which a significant part of the sector's companies are involved.
- Animal pathologies such as avian influenza and sheep pox, which are affecting these livestock sectors, as well as the persistent threat of African swine fever, and which require the development of high levels of biosecurity, awareness and coordination between all the parties involved (administrations, production chain and civil society).
- The acceleration of the social debate on livestock production and meat consumption, with the challenges of sustainability, health and animal welfare.
With these challenges, the meat industry has to consider as a strategic objective to put "5S foods" on the markets, the concept coined by researchers at the Miguel Hernández University of Elche and which indicates that "a product must be Healthy, Safe, Tasty, Sustainable and Socially Accepted".
For this reason, the levers of innovation and technology are key to the roadmap developed by companies across the meat spectrum, seeking, from the point of view of production and process efficiency:
- Developments in areas such as robotisation, digitalisation, big data, blockchain, internet of things (IOT), cloud computing, cybersecurity, process simulation, machine learning, etc.
- Environmental efficiency in livestock production and industry to reduce emissions and make accelerated progress towards the sustainability objectives set out in the national and global agenda.
- Reduction of energy bills and use of renewable energy, including self-produced energy.
- Advanced technologies to improve the quality, convenience or nutritional characteristics of products placed on the market.
- Minimisation of the use of plastics in production processes and in packaging, intelligent and protective packaging, 100% biodegradable and even compostable packaging, efficiency in the reduction and management of disposable elements inherent to logistics and transport processes, etc.
- The buyer is the target
And all this, with a view to a consumer who is changing the way he or she buys and consumes meat products, as shown by the data in the report "The fresh produce buyer", produced by AECOC ShopperView and MelendezXFrescos.