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One of the most competitive potato companies in Spain

Spain: Valencian potatoes to Romania and Dubai

Back in 1946, Vicente Aguilar Martínez started a humble business selling crop fertilizers. Today, under the management of his son, what started as a small warehouse is now one of the most competitive potato companies in Spain, with 19 million Euro in turnover.

However, it was not until 1967 when Patatas Aguilar was established. That is when the company started selling this tuber, with onions and sweet potatoes being added later to the range. Currently, its main customers are large retailers, including Consum and Carrefour. The French company has in fact given the firm the opportunity to have its potatoes shipped to other countries, such as Romania and even Dubai.

The company's warehouse, located in the municipality of Ribarroja de Turia, is now in the process of being expanded for the setting up of new machinery (coinciding with the celebration of the firm's 50th anniversary). This has required an investment of four million Euro. "We will start working with the new machines in early October," affirms Vicente Aguilar Montoro, the founder's son and now general manager of the company, while looking with satisfaction at the equipment purchased. "I like seeing machinery in operation as much as the business itself," he states.

The fact is that one of the priorities of the Aguilar family has always been innovation in order to adapt to the market's increasing demands. "Almost imperceptibly, the business has developed a lot. For us, it has always been important to invest in better machines and better services to stay at the forefront," explains the second generation manager of the Valencian firm, who started working at the company when he was only fifteen years old.

The company's facilities include a 10,000 square metre packaging plant. "Every year we have to invest in updating the machines. We try to innovate in terms of precision and efficiency, as well as in the product itself," insists Aguilar. In that sense, the leader highlights the company's commitment to organic potatoes as part of its innovative philosophy. "We started with the first BIO potatoes ten years ago, when people hardly knew what that was."

Patatas Aguilar has a very wide network of customers. Although it made the jump to the large retail in the 80's, it has not left the wholesale markets aside and has continued supplying Mercovasa or the Mercado de Abastos of Castellon. "From our stand at Mercovasa we distribute potatoes, onions and sweet potatoes to our wholesale customers, traditional retailers and the Horeca sector (Hospitality, Restoration, Cafes)," explained company sources.

As far as large retailers are concerned, they supply companies such as Consum and Carrefour, among others. "We pack with both our brand and those of the retailers, with formats from 400 grams to 10 kilos," they explain. Mercadona also used to be one of its customers, but they stopped working with it 19 years ago. "Mercadona was a client of ours, but when it started with the interprovider's experience, we decided to go our own way. At that time, I had a lot to lose and little to gain." Now, however, outside of that company, which has a significant market share in Valencia, we are the product's biggest trader," assures the general manager.

Regarding the years of the recession, Vicente Aguilar says that the company was able to overcome it with ease. The worst consequence of that is that large retailers have tightened the margins. "It is true that we have continued to sell and have been paid for our work, but from 2008 until two years ago, we have had to adjust our profits," recalls the son of the founder after admitting that marketing a staple product is an advantage in that sense.


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