Michelin-starred chef Mario Sandoval was chosen to cut the ribbon at ceremony marking the official opening of the 2016/17 Mollar de Elche pomegranate campaign last week.
For the first time this season, the pomegranates will have their own Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO). According to the regulatory council, between 15,000 and 20,000 tonnes of the fruit will be marketed under the PDO this season.
Francisco Oliva, president of the PDO’s provisional board, said Sandoval had been chosen for being one of the leading lights in Spanish gastronomy. “We are proud to welcome such a relevant chef…to be our ambassador in such a special and important year for the sector,” he said.
The Mollar variety is highly prized for its exceptional sweetness, soft edible seeds and external colour, which ranges from cream to deep red.
Around 90 per cent of Spain’s Mollar production is centred around Elche and the surrounding areas incorporated in the DOP (Baix Vinalopó, L’Alacantí and Vega Baja).
In total there are some 3,000ha of orchards producing around 50,000 tonnes of the fruit a year. The season runs from October to February.