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Spain: A more innovative, but still conservative horticultural sector

It has been almost ten years since José María Fernández Ginés, Doctor Agronomist, decided to create the company InnoFood in Orihuela, Spain, and to date it is one of the few entrepreneurial structures at national level which brings together everything to do with Research, Development and Innovation (R&D&I), as well as an outsourcing for the marketing department located in Granada.

"Our goal was always to be an external R&D&I department for companies, which we have successfully implanted in the agro-food sector, including processed products," explains José María. "We start from the development of a concept for a product, continuing with the content, packaging design and image, working in a fully integrated manner on the product developed for the customer, in addition to offering innovation consultancy services, etc."

At the start it was not easy, given that it was a generally unknown concept and R&D&I was not associated with agriculture, "and much less could they expect that a 100% private company could be devoted to this," remarks José María.

The word "innovation" has never been perceived as an impending need in the horticultural sector "but over the past ten years we have noticed very favourable progress in this direction."

José María believes, on the one hand, that the generational change with the incorporation of young people has brought new entrepreneurs with a much more progressive mentality who think of the market in global terms, with an understanding that they are not competing with the neighbour, but with others overseas.

"For this reason, despite the recession, we have noticed a growing interest in innovation. With our experience in the sector, we know which firms devote more of their resources to R&D&I, and it is with those companies that we collaborate and in which we observe a high success rate. Innovating is not expensive; it is an investment which must be done carefully, and that is where we provide our assessment."

"Comparing the Spanish horticultural market with other European markets, we would evidently say that it is rather conservative and that there are many aspects which still need to be addressed. Remaining faithful to traditional strategies is a mistake. The range of technological product providers is very wide; ignoring them would entail wasting a great potential that is easily within reach."

The latest product successfully developed by InnoFood was Black Allium (Black Garlic), thanks to an agreement with the company JR, from Las Pedroñeras. "This product entered the market in May this year and is being well received."

More information:
José María Fernández Ginés
T: +34 958 750 607

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