The Food Industry

The food industry is the most important manufacturing sector in Spain in terms of value of the final production (20% of total industrial production), contributing to 15% of added value and employing 17% of the workforce (3). The Spanish food sector ranks fifth within the EU, accounting for 9.9% of the total value. Total sales of the food industry in 1996 raised to 49,555 ME and total consumption of raw materials to 29,415 ME (2).

The high number of companies (37,857) and of manufacturing plants (42,264) is a characteristic of the Spanish food industry. The reduced volume of production of many small to medium companies results in 40% of the market being shared by a few large companies. Companies of a large size are especially found in the beer and sugar sectors. Bakery (39.9%), meat products (11.3%), and winery (9.6%) are the food industry sectors with the highest number of companies. Because of the considerable differences between company size of the various sectors, the highest total sales corresponded to meat products (19.8%), dairy products (10.8%), oils and fats (9.9%), and bakery (8.4%). Sales of the main Spanish food industry sectors in 1996 are shown in Table 1.

Andalusia (17.6%), Catalonia (13.9%), and Valencia (10.3%) are the Spanish autonomous regions (Comunidades Autónomas) with the highest number of food industry companies (2). Autonomous regions with the highest sales were Catalonia, Andalusia, Castilla-León, Madrid, and Valencia, with 22.0, 18.1, 9.1, 8.0, and 6.7%, respectively, of total sales of the Spanish food industry.

Sixty-four associations of different sectors of the food industry are grouped under the Spanish Federation of Food and Beverages Industries (FIAB). The FIAB is the representative organization of the food industry in committees for regulatory affairs and also offers different services to associates such as commercial and technical information, technology transfer, links between private companies with public research organisms, and so on.

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