Interview with Alfonso Sáenz de Cámara, manager of Udapa who tells us about the new potato campaign and the V range products in the markets.
By: Juan Herrera, agri-food journalist (@jherreraarenas)
Udapa is a benchmark in the potato sector, with a model based on the cooperative structure. What is the key to success?
We are a 2nd grade and mixed cooperative, which groups within a cooperative of agricultural producers and producers, another of associated work where several workers of the cooperative are grouped, and finally a credit cooperative. From the beginning we have known how to combine the forces of the three groups to carry out a common project in which the people who make up it have a very high implication, a fundamental aspect in any future project.
On the other hand, Udapa has grown thanks to the constant investment made in the project, which is based on the internal commitment to reinvest 100% of the results generated. This is the basis of our unique model of the agri-food industry with a cooperative base and with our own production, something that is our main differential with respect to our main competitors.
How is the campaign going?
Once again, during this month of May, we are finishing the planting in Álava, and at the same time we are harvesting in Murcia and Seville. In general, the new potato campaign is flowing well since the consumer has an interest in the national product, and in principle there is an acceptable quality at origin. Although many farmers have oriented their production to potatoes for the Home, for the moment the prices that are being paid they are very high, which will cover profitability by far.
On the other hand, we have no certainty about how the campaign will unfold as of August, everything will depend on how tourism is activated and the corresponding potato needs to transform.
Udapa puts both fresh potato and V Range on the shelves, with a wide catalog with numerous references. How are the markets responding? Are they being affected by the pandemic?
Obviously, the pandemic has greatly affected sales in the HORECA Channel, in which sales of IV and V Range potatoes are concentrated, but also an important part of fresh potatoes that for various reasons do not it has a place in supermarkets. So the impact has been remarkable, as evidenced by the recommendation made by sectoral organizations for 2021 to reduce this year’s crops in both Spain and Europe by 15%.
Where does the future of the sector go?
Undoubtedly, the future of the sector depends on the professionalization of the farmer to respond to the demands of the market and the regulatory framework, which is not trivial. We are committed to agriculture made by farming families that sustain the rural economy and territorial balance, and for this reason we believe that we must accompany them in this productive transformation, giving them certainty and confidence.
Among other measures, at Udapa we highlight the three-year contract with which we give economic certainty to our partners and collaborators, agreeing in advance what will be the price they will charge for their crops, as long as they comply with the agreed quality standards. We have been carrying out this formula for more than 15 years and we have managed to multiply the cooperative’s own hectares by four.