Mercadona supermarket chain fights back

Following accusations that Mercadona is buying in cheap imported food rather than supporting Spanish producers, the supermarket has issued a list of its suppliers and claims that almost everything they sell is of Spanish origin

Spain’s largest supermarket chain, Mercadona, was under fire recently thanks to speculation that it had changed its suppliers from Spain to cheaper foreign ones. This accusation was so galling to the company, that they issued and online statement in response: “You may have read on the internet or received information through social media indicating that Mercadona is eliminating Spanish products in favour of foreign products, or that Spanish products are being taken off the shelves at Mercadona. This information is completely FALSE.” 

A huge company

Mercadona supermarkets are found in almost every town in Spain. The business was founded back in 1997 as a local butcher in a small village in the district of Valencia, and since then, the Roig family have created a company that employs 70,000 people. Its founder Juan Roig is now the 3rd richest person in Spain with a fortune valued by Forbes in 2015 of 3.9 billion euro.
Señor Roig said back in 2013 that “Spain was a wasteful country,” and should mimic the “hard working culture” of the Chinese. However, Mercadona is considered to be an excellent employer, offering wage increases for loyal staff, generous time off and its stores only recently opened some of the larger supermarkets on Sundays.
The company confirmed that these claims for “a hoax”

Response to accusations

Following the accusations on social media that Mercadona has ditched Spanish suppliers, the company claimed that they were “a hoax” and went on to detail its supply chain. It claims to have 120 suppliers with around 220 Spanish factories and ongoing alliances with 12,000 Spanish fishermen, 6000 Spanish farmers and 4000 Spanish farm animal breeders from where it sources its fresh produce. 
Amongst the online accusations is one which would concern many a Spaniard - that of olive oil. It is claimed that the olive oil comes from Morocco – alongside suggestions the oranges from Argentina, sunflower seeds from China, the pumpkins from Panama and the potatoes from Israel.
In its response, Mercadona states that its olive oil is bottled by a provider in Seville and is 100% Spanish as indicated on the label and accredited by the independent agency Det Norske Veritas (DNV-GL).  “In order to make our Haciendo oil, Mercadona works with over 150 cooperatives and oil presses from differents parts of Andalusia.” This is relief for many of its customers. 
Mercadona argue that their olive oil is 100% Spanish.
Oranges are 90% Spanish but the supermarket has confirmed that it offers Argentinian fruits during the months they are not grown in Spain, between August and November. Potatoes are Spanish except during the months of November and April when Mercadona says locally grown ones don’t reach their expected standard. 
They go on to say that, “In 2014, the company bought €14.9 billion worth of products in Spain.” 

How will this affect their business?

Well the answer there is: very little. Mercadona is the preferred supermarket of millions of Spaniards and foreigners, though their growth declined in 2014 as a result of the economic downturn in Spain. Their supermarkets offer a wide range of day-to-day products, mostly of Spanish origin and at competitive prices. There is no doubt that Lidl and Aldi in Spain are capturing some of Mercadona’s market, but it still remains the largest in the country with 1100 stores with plans to open even more.

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