Catalan ham factory Pernils Llémena to export to the American market in 2012
The company, that processes 1.2 million hams, is the first Catalan meat factory authorized to sell in the United States. As from next year, Pernils Llémena will start exporting to California and New York.
Sant Aniol de Finestres (ACN).- Pernils Llémena will expand next year to the American market by exporting to California and New York. According to manager, Ramon Barnada, the first sales will be \u201Cmodest\u201D, but in the long-term they expect to consolidate their presence on the other side of the Atlantic. The firm, with its headquarters in Sant Aniol de Finestres, a small town near Girona, has become the first Catalan meat factory with an authorization to export to the United States and one of the 12 Spanish ones. Pernils Llémena was born in 1995 and now employs 105 workers and produces 1.2 million hams per year, 70% of which are sold abroad.
Pernils Llémena was founded 16 years ago and is dedicated exclusively to salt, cure, and bone hams. Pernils Llémena, ended the year with a 7.5 million euros turnover. In 2007, the company tripled its facilities to 20,000 square meters. The property of the company is divided equally between four meat groups of the area: Toni Josep, Collel, Noel and Friusa-Valent. The four companies ended 2010 with an annual turnover of 361 million euros.
1.2 million hams per year
According to Ramon Barnada, the plant currently processes 1.2 million hams per year, 95% of which are sliced. \u201CWe are working at 100% capacity\u201D, he points out.
70% of the hams produced in Sant Aniol de Finestres are exported. In the year 2000, Pernils Llémena started to increase its exports, not only all over the European Union, but also in South America and Asia. In 2012, Pernils Llémena will try to break into the United States, one of the most demanding meat markets in the world. The company from Girona has become the first Catalan factory to obtain an authorization to export to the United States and now becomes one of just 12 companies throughout Spain that can export there.
According to the director of the Health Protection Agency in Girona, Lluís Picart, Pernils Llémena has met the \u201Cexhaustive\u201D requirements necessary to export to the American market. Amongst other measures, the United States obliges the authorised companies to carry out an annual audit and greater analysis and health controls.
Between 500 and 1,000 hams
Pernils Llémena plans to start exporting to the USA next year. The reason is for not starting immediately is that, in order to cure a ham, 12 months are required. Furthermore, the hams have to come from authorised slaughterhouses. \u201CThe only US-recognised slaughterhouses are in Denmark, Holland or Germany, and there is where we are going to buy the hams to cure and dry them\u201D states Barnada.
At first, foreseen sales will be modest. \u201CWe will start by exporting between 500 and 1,000 hams. Breaking into the American market is not going to be easy, but we hope to make it\u201D, says the manager of Pernils Llémena. As for where to make the first sales, the company is aiming at the states of California and New York. \u201CIn California and New York the Mediterranean diet is much appreciated. Sandwiches are also very popular; that is why we believe we have got a strong chance there\u201D, states Ramon Barnada. The manager says that Italians have already led the way with ham exports to the United States and they have even opened plants on the other side of the Atlantic. \u201CWe, however, are not considering that just yet\u201D, he assures.
Opening doors all around the world
Both the Catalan Government and Pernils Llémena agree that the certificate to export to the United States opens lots of doors. \u201CThe United States demand exhaustive requirements and standards. Being an authorised exporter to America makes it easier to export to the Asian market and to the rest of the world\u201D, explains the director of the Health Protection Agency in Girona. Technically, all the products addressed to the American market will have to meet the requirements established by the Food Service and Inspection Service (FSIS).
Besides planning such a move to America, Pernils Llémena is also developing a research project with another Girona company to improve the slicing phase and the packing of cured ham.