IT is only the start of January but the first of this season’s crop of avocados from Malaga are already in high demand across the continent.
Unlike many hard or greying avocados you see in supermarkets, the glossy green ones grown in Axarquia are perfectly ripe and intensely sweet in flavour.
Avocados, a form of berry native to central America, are highly prized across the world, and top chefs and supermarkets are prepared to pay a premium for Spanish-grown avocados.
Lauded for all the goodness it packs into its light green flesh: vitamins C, E and K, folate, potassium and antioxidants, this vegan delight is something of a cash cow for Spain.
Spain today is the single largest European avocado producer, and exports to many countries. The Costa del Sol, along the Mediterranean Sea from Granada to Malaga is the largest producer, though the Canary Islands also produce avocados
Avocados are the ideal crop for BIOrige, a vegetable and fruit business in Malaga, because of the premium price they command across Europe.
But it’s not just the price point that has them glowing, they are also intensely proud of the 100% chemical free products they grow – which also include mango, pitaya, kumquat and passion fruit.
It’s the avocados that steal the show, said Juan Antonio López, commercial manager of BIOrigen. ”The quality of the product that is being harvested this season is good. Its characteristic ripeness is what makes it so special for European consumers and why demand for Spanish grown avocados is so high across the EU.”
The UK (along with France) is the most eager consumers of avocados in Europe, with entire menus and cafes designed around the green goodness. The pear-shaped fruit has even got its own emoji it’s so popular.
In Spain, however, many shoppers remain in the dark over the seasonality of locally grown avocados.
BIOrige wants to change all that and encourage Spaniards to eat more locally and seasonally.
The Axarquia-based company is keen to target “those who want to lead a healthier lifestyle” – not just overseas – but in Spain too.
“The habits of the Spanish consumer are changing and we are seeing more of the population take an interest in organic products in general and tropical fruits in particular,” said Alejandro Clavero, CEO of BIOrigen.
The connection with seasonality has always been of great importance in Spain. For example, the legendary Tomatina tomato festival takes place in the Valencian town of Buñol every August while calçots, a type of scallion, are celebrated on the last Sunday in January in Valls, Tarragona.
An international garlic fair takes place in the Castilla-La Mancha region in July, when the bulbs come into season; and there’s a festival for padrón peppers in Galicia in August and one for piquillo peppers in Puente la Reina, Navarra, from September to November.
Surely, it’s only a matter of time before avocados in Malaga get given the same celebratory treatment?