Alfa Group, which was founded in Chile 60 years ago, and comprises Alfa Chilena and Alfa Argentina, makes food ingredients such as flavors and colors, hydrocolloids, preservatives, soy protein, meat casing, and marinades.
In January this year, Alfa Argentina was awarded the global market award by industry association The Global Food Security Initiative (GFSI) at an event in France.
According to Javier Torres, Alfa Argentina's technical manager in charge of R&D, quality and food safety, the company benefited from GFSI’s Global Markets Programme, which helped it build a structured food safety management system.
“The biggest challenge we faced was about culture. We have a culture of solving things in a creative way, spontaneously, and that's very good, but we need to blend that with procedures and a structured system,” Torres said.
“When the gap is too big, you need some tools to help you break it into pieces. And that's [what] the Global Market is about.”
Established in 2000 by the Consumer Goods Forum to reduce food safety risks, audit duplication and costs, and build consumer trust in the supply chain, GFSI members include food suppliers, manufacturers, and retailers as well as academic institutions.
With three plants in Santiago, Chile and one in Córdoba’ Argentina, the company is now set on establishing a presence throughout Latin America.
Calluso said Alfa Argentina is currently undertaking “a very aggressive commercial mission” in Ecuador, Paraguay and is expanding into Uruguay and Brazil, Alfa Argentina's regional business developer, Guido Calluso, told FoodNavigator-LATAM.
The company will be exhibiting at FISA in Sao Paolo next month in order to kickstart this regional expansion.
“Our main next step is to expand the product portfolio for ingredients and specialties, address regional markets outside Argentina and Chile and improve the Buenos Aires applications laboratory.”
According to Calluso, the company’s most valuable product is its “innovation and advice”.
“Research and development […] is our most valuable asset, our function is to provide technology and knowledge to our customers and it is what distinguishes us in the market,” he said.
GFSI and Ministry of Agriculture collaboration
In addition to individual companies, GFSI works with national authorities.
Since 2017, it has been working with the Argentinian Ministry of Agroindustry (MINAGRO) on its national food quality logo, ‘Argentinian food, a natural choice’, bench-marking the standard to ensure it is aligned with international technical criteria.
Andrés Murchison, secretary of food and the bioeconomy at the Ministry of Agriculture said: “It's important for MINAGRO and for Argentina because […] the backbone of our economy is food exports.
"We want to make sure that our food exports meet all the safety requirements along the whole supply chain for consumers, both within Argentina but also for our exports. So it's of paramount importance to us, being able to work with GFSI and adapting international technical standards to our food industry.”
According to data published this year, the value of Argentinian food exports with the national quality seal tripled in the first quarter of this year, reaching nearly US$16 million in value.