A Mediterranean olive tree, symbolizing “the foundation stone” of Bio Market, was planted by the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, on December 11, 2018. The planting took place during the ceremony to officially announce the development of the first organic fresh food hub in Spain,  which will open in the spring of 2020.

Part of the dynamic Mercabarna wholesale food conglomerate, Bio Market will cover an area of 8,900 m2,  with 22 market stalls for producers and wholesalers of organic fresh produce and an additional area for small local suppliers. The initial goal will be to concentrate 20% of all annual organic fresh produce sales in Catalonia at the hub, equivalent to 23,662 tonnes. After 2030, the figure will rise to 50%, around 78,100 tonnes.

In 2015, Barcelona was one of many cities that signed the Milan Pact to promote healthy eating and food sovereignty. “Barcelona and its metropolitan area are based on a model of neighborhood shops and we want to make sure fresh and local products are available to its citizens,”  announced Mayor Colau during the ceremony.

Currently, 40 companies sell organic products in Mercabarna, but just three are operating entirely as organic fresh produce distributors. Compañía General Carnia is the only firm selling exclusively organic certified meat. All products to be sold at Bio Market will be certified by the Catalan Council of the Ecologic Agriculture Production (CCPAE).

Organic logistic hub

Bio Market will first target local grocery stores and small chains selling organic fresh produce, Hotel Restaurant Catering (HORECA), and local and regional supermarket chains. Compared to other Spanish cities, one of the competitive advantages that Mercabarna offers is the proximity and efficient distribution to the French market.

“Barcelona is a great logistic hub as it allows us to go beyond our boundaries and look for new opportunities abroad,” said Daniel Carratala, sales manager at Green Organics, producer and trader of organic citrus.  The company started in 2017 and serves the Barcelona area and the French and Portuguese markets. The company´s turnover registered € 5,5 million in 2017 and expects to close this fiscal year with € 8,5 million. 

Mercabarna guarantees a supply of fresh food and operates 24 hours a day. The facility houses the Central Fruit and Vegetable Market, the Central Fish Market, the Slaughterhouse and Mercabarna-flor, located in Sant Boi de Llobregat, in a building next to Barcelona Airport. Also included is a Complementary Activities Zone (ZAC), with over 700 firms specializing in the preparation, distribution, importing and exporting of fresh and frozen products. The large food distribution chains source their fresh produce at Mercabarna.

According to the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery and Food, Spain leads in the European Union with the largest area for organic production, 2 million-hectares, and is fourth in the world in terms of operators, with a total of 40,000.

Consumption of organic products represents almost two percent, which is low compared to the UK (8 percent), Germany (5 percent), and France (6 percent), but it is increasing at a rate of 20 percent reaching 2,000 million Euros in 2017, with an expense per capita of 46 Euros (an increase of 50 percent compared to 2016).  

A survey organized this year by Omnibus Municipal among consumers in Barcelona found that 91.5 percent of the interviewees valued the “proximity” of the products they purchase, 55 percent if the product is directly sold by the producer, and 54 percent if it has organic certification. And consumers are also becoming more adventurous and willing to try out other foods. A report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food states that between 2012 and 2017,  the occasions when consumers have tried "non-traditional" food, such as quinoa, sushi, ceviche, guacamole or tacos, increased 132 percent for starters, 105 percent for main dishes and 223 percent  as a dish to share.

The gradual growth of the organic sector in Spain has attracted the international trade show organizer Diversified Communications UK to launch Organic Food Iberia and Eco Living Iberia at the IFEMA Exhibition Centre in Madrid on June 6-7, 2019, an initiative supported by the industry and the Spanish government.