The American food company Griffith Foods, specialized in seasonings and sauces, plans to intensify their activity in Catalonia over the next few years, growing into more markets from Valls (Tarragona).
According to Fernando Gómez, Managing Director of South Europe at Griffith Foods, “the company’s growth in Catalonia is very important: we doubled our business over the last three years and we have aggressive expansion plans”.
Griffith Foods started operations in Catalunya in 1982 and two years ago, the multinational built a brand-new factory where Industry 4.0 applications will play an important role.
Griffith Foods has plans to expand in Catalonia. What are your goals?
Griffith Spain was transformed in 2018 into a new region. The site of Valls is now the headquarters for Southern Europe: based in Catalonia, we now are responsible for Iberia, France, Italy, Turkey and North Africa.
Our key categories are sauces, dressings and seasonings. The factory in Valls is prepared to triple its current capacity and our strategic direction is to become the preferred supplier of health and nutrition solutions for the B2B and foodservice markets.
We plan to invest around €12M over the next 5 years, focusing in new production lines that are technologically more advanced and part of Industry 4.0. Currently we produce 3,500 tons per year in liquids and 4,500 tons in dry blends, and our goal is to reach 14,000 and 18,000 tons in both. As per our team, we currently are 100 people and we plan on doubling this number in 5 years.
How much do you export and to which markets?
Right now, most of our volume is for local consumption in Spain. But we are already starting to export: we sell to 10 countries within Europe and North Africa and this year exports will amount to 5%. With our expansion plans, exports will be close to 50% in 2027.
What are the strengths of Catalonia that helped you grow your business here?
The location of the factory to serve all of Southern Europe, combined with the strong culinary heritage of Catalonia are relevant reasons to keep the investment here. Location is key when you want to cover the entire Mediterranean: from here, it is very easy to export to Italy, France, North Africa and Turkey.
Furthermore, the economic projection is favorable compared to other European countries, which makes Catalonia an attractive place to invest.
How do you see the food industry in Catalonia?
The food industry in Catalonia historically has been one of the engines of the economy. I think there is a very interesting mix between the food industry and the tourism industry which is a plus for us, because then we can also focus in tourism.
We have a group of chefs and marketing specialists that develop products together with our clients that are attractive to the final consumer. Our clients are hotels, restaurants, and fast food chains. We are focused on proteins, snacks and salads, and we provide solutions that make products much more attractive, delicious and have better texture and flavor.
Innovation is part of the DNA of the company. How do you implement it?
Innovation is core in our company. Our purpose is to blend care and creativity to nourish the world. We live innovation every day in all its aspects, not only related to our products but also to all processes within the company. Innovation is a key enabler to establish strong relationships with our customers and suppliers.
Here in Valls we have an R&D area that is always looking for new developments. We are proactive and show our clients different proposals. Griffith Foods has an innovation committee at a global level, a European committee, and locally our R&D team connects with the European one to look for new ideas and innovative products and processes.
How do you think an industrial company like Griffith Foods can take advantage of Catalonia being positioned as a digital hub?
It is very important for us. We are developing our foodservice business and the fact that Catalonia is positioning itself as a global digital hub will help us grow our B2B not only in Europe but will attract online businesses from the rest of the world.
We also work a lot with Asia, for example, importing and exporting products, and having a hub in Catalonia can make the connection to develop the online business easier.
How do you see the 4.0 industry application in your sector?
We are looking to accelerate our investments in Valls and we are considering the industry 4.0 within the new projects, both in liquids and dry blends. Griffith is committed to improving the production and supply chain processes for the benefit of our customers and end consumers. Our manufacturing strategy is focused on the efficiency of our production, which is as important as the food safety and quality of our products.
What is the relationship of Griffith Foods with suppliers of Catalonia? In which parts of the value chain do local suppliers intervene?
Griffith always tries to work as much as possible with local suppliers from Catalonia in order to be fully part of the local network. Local suppliers provide raw materials that are blended in our factory. Whenever our specific requirements for raw materials are fitting with what the Catalan suppliers can offer, we favor the local option because it brings advantages such as short delivery time and flexibility.
The implementation of our new factory in 2017, with sauce and liquid productions, has allowed us to develop our relationship with Catalan suppliers, whether it’s dairy products, oil, wheat flours, wine, beer, etc. The quality of local products is key to achieve the nutritious and delicious products that Griffith is producing.
How easy is it to find or attract talent for your sector in Catalonia?
To select candidates for operations, which is the division that has grown the most, it is not difficult to find talent in Catalonia. We believe we are an attractive employer due the purpose and values of the company combined with an attractive salary package. For Griffith Foods the employee is the most important asset in the organization.
In the case of R&D positions, we need to adapt to local tastes in the different markets where we work. So, if we are developing a product for an Italian client, we try to hire an Italian specialist that will match with the culinary needs of our customers. Our R&D team represents now 10% of the total number of employees and will grow consistently in the near future.