Investments by Mercadona’s suppliers in the region exceed 125 million euros Huevos Guillén, Ultracongelados Virto, El Cidacos and Grupo Català with their company Catafruit add 750 employees and plan to grow this year
In front of the shelves of a supermarket, the Extremaduran consumer may have the feeling that the transformation of these products is carried out in large factories located in other areas, even abroad. This suspicion is unfounded, at least in the case of Mercadona, whose main objective is to create wealth and employment in the areas where it is present and which has four ‘integrated suppliers’ (manufacturers of its own brands) in the region.
Eggs, spinach, tomatoes, peaches, nectarines, apples, pears and Extremadura plums are used in the production of prestigious brands that are based in the region and that have involved a significant investment. Specifically, Huevos Guillén (Almendralejo), Ultracongelados Virto (La Albuera), Grupo Catafruit (Mérida, Badajoz, Don Benito) and El Cidacos (Coria) accumulate a joint investment of more than 125 million euros and add a workforce of 750 people between the four industries, figures driven by the relationship with Mercadona. The investment planned for the year that has just begun is close to 10 million euros and the collaboration with small local companies and producers of raw materials in their respective areas of influence make them authentic bastions of Extremadura agri-food production.
What are the keys to the success of this production model? Well, the first thing is to be clear about who ‘the boss’ is. In the case of Mercadona, it is not an executive of an office in the capital, but its clients, the final consumers of its products.
Huevos Guillén, Ultracongelados Virto, El Cidacos and Grupo Catafruit are four of the hundred of Mercadona’s ‘integrated suppliers’ that make and manufacture, among others, well-known and recommended brands such as Hacendado, Bosque Verde, Deliplus and Comply. The ‘integrated suppliers’ are one of the main pillars of the company. Food security and quality are the binomial that every Mercadona product has to comply with: And in Extremadura its entrepreneurs have made great efforts to carry out this maxim.
The brothers Català de la Portella (Lleida) are the founders of Catafruit, who over 30 years have acquired the estates of Escobar, Las Mercedes and La Adelantada. Peaches, nectarines, apples, pears and plums are produced from these 838 hectares for Mercadona’s fruit shelves.
They have invested 38 million euros in the conversion of the plantations to the latest generation varieties. They have also remodeled the logistics center and acquired machinery to bring it to its maximum activity. Last year they acquired the Chiquinquirá estate in Olivenza and this year they want to invest 1.5 million euros more in new plantations. They have a staff of 500 workers and the new plantations will allow them to hire 100 more people in the field.