Embutidos Monells is dedicated to the production and marketing of cooked cold meat in different formats of pieces and slices of both its own brand and distribution brand. María Ángeles Sebastiá González, director manager, talks about the past, present and prospects of the company.
1. How was the company founded and what are the main characteristics that define it today?
The Monells family founded the company in 1975 and progressively grew and professionalized until it was acquired in 2014 by Grupo Alimentario Argal. It has 3 plants located in Sant Miquel de Balenyà and Les Masies de Voltregà with more of 40 000 m2 of production facilities. In 2020, 27 768 tons of product were sold and sales have reached 125 million euros. The personnel team of Embutidos Monells was made up of 599 workers.
Embutidos Monells has always been specialized in the manufacture of cooked and smoked natural cold meat: smoked bacon, turkey breast, cooked ham and cooked shoulder mainly. Thus, we position ourselves as great specialists in these four categories and in them we offer a very wide range both in counter pieces and in sliced formats. Monells is the national leader in the Cooked Bacon category, making 44% of the category’s sales in mass distribution.
At Embutidos Monells we always say that our product is our best advertisement for the consumer. In our packaging we give prominence to the product, we want it to be seen as much as possible, to be the protagonist. Our commitment to quality is maximum.
In recent years at Monells we have carried out a technological revolution with all our products. Lactose and soy have been removed from all recipes and for a year now, we have been a completely allergen-free company. In addition, we have adapted our cold meats to the new NAOS (Nutrition, Physical Activity and Prevention of Obesity) strategy for reducing salt, sugars and fats promoted by AESAN (the Spanish agency for food safety and nutrition).
Regarding packaging, we are very aware that we want to reduce the amount of plastic we use to the minimum, without compromising the useful life of products. For this, innovation is essential by both Monells and our suppliers from a technological and functional point of view.
2. How does ECOSENSE fit into your sustainability plans?
The ECOSENSE certification has been a priority objective in 2020. We bet a sustainable business model, which in turn contributes to a more sustainable society. The PLASTIC SENSE foundation, through its certification, makes visible our efforts in this direction. Our management system incorporates the circular economy model separating the waste from PET trays in our facilities and taken to a recycling company so that it becomes in secondary raw material to be incorporated in the manufacture of PET sheets to produce new PET trays. In this way, together with our suppliers, we guarantee that our trays always contain between 50 and 85% transparent recycled PET recycled.
3. What innovation projects have you developed or are in progress?
Within the objective of sustainability, for four years ago we are actively participating in different projects with different partners.
For example, in 2020 we have finished the MATSOS project (More Sustainable Plastic Materials for the meat industry), a project with the support of IRTA (Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentaries) and the manufacturers of material Klockner and Enplater. The main objective of this project was the development of new structures of more sustainable plastic materials for the meat sector in order to reduce the environmental impact of this post-consumer waste at the end of its useful life.
Another project in progress is PACKSOS, focused on the eco-design of a container in order to improve the environmental impact study from the beginning and apply it throughout the value chain.
We also have in our portfolio some interesting new projects at the sustainability level that we hope to start soon.
4. What do you think about the mediatic fight against plastics / the plastic tax?
Plastics are very useful materials, thanks to which great technological advances have been achieved. They are light, easily transformable, recyclable and with great technological properties. We do not believe in the demonization that has been made of plastic as a material and putting a tax on plastic is already pointing to it as a culprit. Plastic is not a problem for the environment if it is managed and used in the right way. With conscientious use, plastic is a sustainable and ecological option. It is important that consumers make a more responsible use of this material, through good waste management and recycling of products. For this, both governments and companies must invest in training and in public and private infrastructures that facilitate sorting, recycling and reuse, and favor technological innovation.
For example, PET is a 100% recyclable material, very light that allows a high quantity of product to be packaged using a small amount of material, reducing the environmental impact in the transport of packaged food, but it does not make sense that it is more expensive to buy recycled PET than virgin PET. Together we must ensure that the recycling process ends up being cheaper than throwing away and using new plastic. The tax should be applied only on products that does not incorporate a minimum of recycled plastic content.
Whether or not the tax is really going to be an effective measure will depend on whether the money collected is actually invested in improving the waste management system, but we must be clear that it will affect both the industry and consumers.
5. What are your goals for 2021?
The year of the pandemic has really put us all to the test and has changed consumption habits that in part will endure in the future. In 2021, we are going to invest in increasing capacity in those business lines that have grown the most and we are also going to make a clear commitment to sustainability and the digital transformation of the company in all its areas, especially in industrial operations. Alliances multiply the results of the effort and we will participate in new innovation projects with suppliers and technology centers.
6. What are the prospects for the sector in the coming years?
The future of the meat sector is lately on everyone’s lips. It is said that in the coming years the tendency to eat meat will decrease and on the other hand there is talk of the rise of laboratory meat. They are surely future trends and the sector may end up concentrating.
The reality is that we are committed to being, every day, more specialists in what we do best and for those who want to continue enjoying the pleasure of eating a good bacon or a great cooked ham, we will continue to innovate to make higher quality products every day , sustainable and respectful of the environment.