Grupo Congalsa is a company focused on the production of frozen and refrigerated food. With a total workforce of almost 500 people and a turnover of more than 100 million euros, the company mobilised a total of 24.5 million tonnes of products in its different ranges in 2020.

With headquarters in A Pobra do Caramiñal and a factory in Portugal, Sulpasteis specialises in the production of deep-frozen products and is immersed in the launch of new references for its retail brand, Ibercook Fun Food. In addition to the national market, Congalsa has an international presence and operates in 35 countries on four continents, with a global portfolio of 450 clients.

1. What is the added value of your activity as a company compared to others?

Sustainability is a fundamental premise for Congalsa: an inspiring principle for us and for the development of our activity. In this sense, we were the first Spanish company to join the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership network promoted by the young and dynamic North American NGO SFP, with the aim of promoting the improvement of sustainability in the fish products market. Both in terms of catch and production and in terms of raising awareness among end consumers.

We have taken firm steps towards the production of healthier, more sustainable and convenient foods and towards product ranges that can cover the sensitivities of certain consumer groups (gluten-free or allergen-free product ranges, among others). All of this, without losing sight of our fundamental objective, which is none other than to generate pleasure around the consumption of any of the products we manufacture.

2.You have won an award in the Innovation category of the SEUA – Mindtech Awards for developing a smart factory model that allows digitisation, data analysis, cybersecurity and eco-sustainability.

This award is recognition of our many years of experience, development and commitment to becoming an innovative company that is a benchmark in the sector. It is also a boost to the innovation project and a recognition to each person who has participated and participates in the entire ecosystem of which the company is a part, whether they are employees, suppliers, partners or clients with whom we work together. It gives a voice to all the actors and protagonists, of which there are many, and we are very proud.

Congalsa has made a strong commitment to advance in the digital transformation and to establish a model of connected industry. Leading Industry 4.0 in the Galician food sector and promoting the development of a smart factory model have both been priority objectives within the framework of our sustainable development project.

To this end, in 2020 we launched the Congals4.0 project jointly with GRADIANT and with the support of the Galician Innovation Agency of the Xunta de Galicia. This project is part of the Industrial Future 4.0 – Smart Factory Programme, co-financed with EU ERDF funds and will run until 2022.

3.How can your smart factory model pave the way for other companies?

An integral smart production model such as the one we are developing in Congalsa 4.0, capable of greater adaptability to needs as well as a more efficient allocation of resources, the implementation of continuous quality controls either through artificial vision techniques or through other types of sensors and BIG DATA analysis maximise risks, incidents and waste and allow us to extract knowledge to detect improvement actions that feed back and close the circle, finally improving that longed-for profitability that is difficult to calculate a priori, but also with improvements in service, for example.

4.The food sector is one of the industries that is currently booming, what is the future, what key challenges will it face in the coming years?

There are expected to be more changes in consumer packaged goods in the next five years than there have been in the last 50 years. And in the midst of all this, the core business, which is the now hyper-connected consumer. We must be aware that we no longer only manufacture for the consumer, but that it is the consumer who orders and defines manufacturing.

In order to meet all the challenges as efficiently as possible, Industry 4.0 in the food sector is absolutely key.

5.What role will digitalisation play in the sector?

Digitalisation and connectivity are driven by data, which, with the right technologies and developments, become useful and fundamental information for making the best decisions quickly, and are therefore key to profitability and service improvement. It will therefore enable us to face the challenges mentioned above, allowing us, for example, to adapt quickly to the needs of our customers, employees and the environment.

6. How do you face the recovery/reactivation in the new scenario imposed by COVID-19? What do you think the year 2021-2022 looks like for the metal industry and its associated technologies in Spain in particular and in the Iberian Pole in general?

As we are part of the food sector, our company did not suffer so much from the crisis caused by Covid-19, although we did see our sales suffer in the Horeca channel due to closures in the hotel and catering sector. As for the crisis in the metal industry, we can say as customers of suppliers in the sector that we suffered the delays caused by the crisis in materials.