15,000 bags per day: the Canaries export ice cream to make up for shortages on the Peninsula

The Canarian company Arucansa, which has Mercadona as its main customer, is increasing its production to cover part of the shortages in the rest of the country

the Canary Islands remains oblivious to lack of ice faced by the catering and food sectors on the peninsula. So much so that tons of this product leave the Archipelago daily to fill the coffers of various supermarkets. Far from blaming all the problems on the heat, the pandemic and rising costs, energy top of mind, island producers are warning that the ice is falling victim to problems that have dragged on for decades. “We sold the bag at 150 pesetas 30 years ago and today at 85 cents”, details the manager of the Canarian company Arucansa, Francisco Suárez.

This almost perpetual suppression of prices leads to a “non-existence of profits”. This leads to a process of concentration to try to generate economies of scale guaranteeing survival above the break-even point. Arucansa itself is an example. Over the past twelve years, seven small businesses have joined this project led by Pedro García.

Living on the financial edge, plus the “300%” increase in energy costs, This, according to Suárez, has left several companies on the peninsula with the only option to “lower the lever”. The lack of margins It has prevented them from healing the wounds inflicted by the health restrictions that the pandemic has forced to decree in the main ice cream shops such as the Horeca chain (hotels, restaurants and cafeterias). Now only the giants, those who accumulate the most muscle in their balances, have a secure future.

Growers claim supply is shrinking due to low prices

Last June was the fourth hottest since 1961 in mainland Spain, according to the National Meteorological Agency (Aemet). The early heat wave has already put ice seekers on notice. However, the more typical spring winds returned and the waters calmed down. It is now, with summer well established and with very high temperatures for weeks, that the iceberg, worthy of the icy comparison, has revealed its full dimension.

The restaurateurs make real assessments, but the ice is not a ground that gives guarantees not to slip, on the contrary. From exporting it to France or Italy, he moved on to the fact that the drinks have fewer cubes in certain bars. This is something that does not go unnoticed by much of the heated and thirsty clientele. And the worst part is that these shortcomings threaten to worsen if the heat wave continues.

The Canary Islands are not exempt from the problems caused by the very prolonged price captivity. The case would be settled if they amounted to assuming an increase “between five and ten cents” for the end customer, assures the manager of Arucansa. “I don’t see anyone hanging a barbecue because the ice cream is a little more expensive,” judgement. However, consumption is not affected by seasonality as is the case on the Peninsula, where production soars during the summer months.

Arucansa launched a new manufacturer this week in Tenerife

and There you go the apparent contradiction that it is one of the autonomous communities with the lowest rainfall rate the one that supplies – in small part – the rest of the state. “60% of sales go to small local distributors, who are the ones who put the ice cream in bars, and the remaining 40% goes to food,” Suárez explains. And its main client, Mercadona to be exact, inquired about the possibility of Arucansa helping to cover a few empties that emptied into the frozen bins of their supermarkets.

Arucansa had planned to start a new ice machine – as it is known in the jargon – in Tenerife between October and the end of the year. He would join the three that operate 24/7. The investment has been advanced. Production went from 80 tons to 150 tons a day overnight.

Suarez knows it Exporting to the Peninsula is a circumstantial issue and that the really important thing is to solve the problem. “At least this crisis will serve to visualize the bottom of the case and to understand that we cannot have prices from the 1990s”, he concludes.

15,000 bags per day

The entry into service this week of the first ice machine in Tenerife has enabled Arucansa to send daily 40 tons of ice to the Peninsula or, what amounts to the same thing, “about 15,000 bags”, according to the director of the Gran Canaria company, Francisco Suárez. Currently, “between 30% and 40%”, he adds, of the production is placed in freezers that go to mainland Spain by sea. An injection of income which will be used to “pay a little, not more”. Transport increases costs, so the operation can only be understood as a detail with the end customer by supermarkets. | JGH

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