The food and beverage industry broke in 2020 with six years of growth due to the health crisis. According to the economic report of the Spanish Federation of Food and Beverage Industries (FIAB), the sector lost 7,251 million euros of production, up to 129,854 million euros, which means a fall of 5.4% compared to the 2019 figures. Regarding the gross added value of the sector, this fell by 8.6%, more than production due to the higher incidence of hotels and tourism .
As explained by both the Secretary General of Agriculture and Food of MAPA, Fernando Miranda, the General Director of FIAB, Mauricio García de Quevedo, and the Director of Finance, Economic Studies and Talent of FIAB, Karina Pereira, 2020 was a difficult year for the sector. Even so, despite the negative data, the food and beverage industry has been the industrial sector that has best withstood the threat of the pandemic.
A decline that has been mainly influenced by the paralysis of tourism and the closures produced in the hotel industry and that could not be offset by the higher consumption produced by households or by exports, which were the two positive news last year. In fact, data from January to November 2020 show that household consumption has registered a rebound of 16.15% and reached the 71,319.9 million euros. In addition, per capita spending within households grew by 19%, while in volume terms it increased by 11%.
For their part, exports grew by 4.4%, to 33,945 million euros. The increased demand in China for meat products due to swine fever explains this growth, since without this fact, exports would have fallen by 0.9%. By markets, Canada and the United Kingdom stand out, which despite Brexit, sales increased by 6% due to the greater stockpiling of the British. We will have to wait until this year to gauge the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU.
In addition, the lower number of imports increased the trade balance by 12,608 million euros. For this year, the sector expects a significant increase in exports, especially in the US, after it removed tariffs on oil and wine.
It was not a good year for employment either, almost 5,000 were destroyed, closing the year with a membership of 431,800 workers, which represents a decrease of 1.1%. In this sense, FIAB emphasizes that ERTEs have contributed, as in other sectors, to cushion the blow. It currently has 8,000 people in ERTE, well below the more than 46,000 reached in May last year.
Regarding companies, there were a total of 3,241 industries that disappeared due to the pandemic, most of them micro-SMEs without employees. This figure has been alleviated by the number of registrations, closing the year with 157 fewer companies, up to 30,573.
For the recovery, from FIAB they are cautious and hope that in this second semester the recovery of tourism and hospitality will give a boost to the sector, in addition to the vaccination rates. «We are very dependent on the vaccination rate. If we estimate that if the national economy grows between 6-8%, we believe that we can be 2 or 3% this year. The arrival of tourists and the opening of the hotel business will be key, ”explained Mauricio García de Quevedo. Even so, they do not expect that until 2023 they will recover the levels before the health crisis.
With regard to vaccination, the FIAB have been optimistic that during the summer companies, through mutual insurance companies, can vaccinate their employees. “If the president has said that in a hundred days we will reach herd immunity, that figure needs our sector to be vaccinated. We are going to give the president the benefit of the doubt in that period, although we need vaccines to arrive, “said Mauricio García de Quevedo.