The CIAA, the body representing the European food and drink sector, said today (16 July) that it had appointed its first president to come from the SME sector.

Jesús Serafín Pérez, CEO of bottled water firm Fuensanta, was today elected to serve as president of the board at the CIAA.

Pérez, who is already president of the FIAB - the Spanish food and drink federation - will lead a 17-member board, which also includes executives from Kraft Foods, Unilever, Nestle and Coca-Cola Co.

Pérez called for "constructive dialogue" with European institutions.

"We must make good use of our strengths, enhancing and promoting the cultural and social values of the agri-food sector," he said.

"We are an industry which is extremely rich and diverse, deeply rooted in local traditions and culture, and as such, we must do everything possible to ensure that Europe's food and drink industry continues to be the world's most competitive".