Eder Rio has overseen Laumont at the stand that the company has owned at Mercabilbao since the first day of its opening in March 2016. He witnessed the growth of the market and the company in Bilbao: the beginnings were not easy, but thanks to the work of the whole team, the obstacles encountered at the start were overcome.
Laumont made her first appearance in Mercabilbao in 2016. How were the first few months of the project?
The first months were tough, and we had to work a lot with the team of 3 people that we were then, since nobody knew Laumont in Bilbao. In the first few weeks, we needed to explain who we were, what our project was like so that we could win the trust of customers. We had to be the ones who had to convince the greengrocers to trust us.
How did you manage to trigger the positive momentum and achieve results?
What consolidated us on the wholesale market was the forest mushroom campaigns. Being already present in the two main markets of the country (Mercabarna and Mercamadrid), we had a wide variety and a volume of mushrooms available, which earned us the confidence of the buyers. Having good campaigns of wood mushrooms was undoubtedly the key for Laumont to take off in Mercabilbao.
Laumont gets stronger every year in Mercabilbao. What have been the most significant changes over these 6 years?
Over the years, we have evolved, and this has given us the opportunity to increase the workforce: now we are 4 people. But the most important thing is the experience and knowledge we have gained all this time. Now we know what every customer wants, and we can offer optimal service to every person who visits us.
How is daily life in Mercabilbao?
The busiest hours on our market are the first two hours after opening: 6 am to 8 am. This is where the hustle and bustle are greatest, as the greengrocers and shops that open later in their city come to buy the goods and need to buy them in advance. When I started, there were two sales schedules, morning and afternoon. Some time ago, the afternoon shift was discontinued, so today there are more people concentrated in the morning.
In your opinion, what is Mercabilbao's particularity compared to other markets such as Mercabarna or Mercamadrid?
Bilbao has always been considered an area with very high mushroom cultivation and high consumption. There are many people who love mushrooms, and this is one of the factors that led Laumont to set up a booth in Mercabilbao. With Mercabarna and Mercamadrid, it was not possible to cover the whole northern part of the country and the opening in Bilbao solved this problem.
What is the star product in the Basque Country?
Undoubtedly, St. George's mushroom (Calocybe gambosa), which is harvested during the spring season. It is during this period that the St. George's mushroom is most consumed in Spain and many consider this fungus to be the most important of our country.
What about the truffle?
It is still a product that is not well known to most of our customers, even though we sell more and more truffles each year. From time to time, there are greengrocers and restaurants that want to offer gourmet products to their customers, and we provide them with truffles during the fresh truffle seasons (white truffle, black truffle, summer truffle and autumn truffle).
Every Mercabilbao customer now knows the Laumont brand. What do you think it brings them?
As I have already said, having volume and quality during the campaigns helps a lot. In addition, Laumont's innovation sets us apart from other competitors in the market. For example, a few months ago, we installed an automatic checkout system that speeds up the purchasing process: time is money on the market.
What do you think the future holds for Mercabilbao?
The trend in Mercabilbao is the same as in the world: there are fewer and fewer traditional early starters and family businesses, and more supermarkets, distributors and large chains. Email or WhatsApp sales are also gaining in importance, and these are media on which we are also committed to being innovative. Sales volume is increasing and, although Covid has been very difficult for all of us. We reinvented ourselves and looked for alternatives to continue growing Laumont in Mercabilbao.
Thank you for the interview, Eder.
Thanks to you.