Spanish charcuterie spreads wings in Canada

Espuña Tapas Essentials sees results after switching focus to North America

The Old World-style charcuterie of a Spanish food company continues to find favour with consumers in the heart of the New World.

Last week Espuña, a Spanish maker of traditional tapas and cured meats, launched its nine-item Espuña Tapas Essentials collection in Metro stores across Ontario.

The company introduced its 17 varieties of ready-to-serve, heat-and-serve tapas to Canada last fall, when they appeared in Toronto's Longo’s Markets.

Since then they have moved on to other major food store chains in Ontario, including Loblaw, FreshCo, and now Metro.

"We're very pleased about consumer reaction to our products in Canada," Ignacio Rodriguez Saez de Ibarra, Espuña's vice-president sales for North America, told Canadian Grocer from Florida.

"We're going to do up to $700,000 in sales this year in Canada, and about $1.2 million here in the U.S.  Things are ramping up very quickly, and we have big plans going forward."

According to Saez de Ibarra, Espuña first focused on South America when it expanded across the Atlantic more than a decade ago.

But the struggling South American economy, together with the surge in charcuterie sales in North America, convinced the family-owned food firm to switch markets.

"Charcuterie is very trendy here now and sales are becoming really big," said Saez de Ibarra.

He said the company was encouraged by the results of focus groups and tastings it did in Canada before launching here last year.

"We got some great data," said Saez de Ibarra.  "And we found that Spanish charcuterie was not well represented in the Canadian marketplace."

Espuña, he added, is perfectly positioned to change that.  Founded in 1947 in Olot, a 2-hour-drive north of Barcelona in the heart of Spain's largest pork producing region (Spain is the No. 2 hog producer in Europe, after Germany), the company is one of Spain's best-known makers of cured meats and Spanish-style tapas.

According to Saez de Ibarra, the company's Serrano ham is also the top-selling cured ham in France.

"What sets us apart is our production methods," he said.  "All ingredients come from within 100 kilometres of our plant (and) we cure our meats, we don't heat treat or ferment them.  That is reflected in the end.  Our products don't have high acidity or tough texture."

Unlike the U.S., where the company acquired a production plant in upstate New York to supply the American market, Saez de Ibarra says his company exports product to Canada from the plant in Olot.

"What we deliver is quality and craftsmanship at a good price point," he said.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds