A group of Michelin-starred chefs from the Valencia region gathered in Albatera, Alicante, to celebrate the start of the 2017/18 Granada Mollar de Elche PDO pomegranate season.
The PDO regulatory authority has registered 1,469ha of production, an increase of 8.9 per cent on the previous season.
President Francisco Oliva noted that recent rainfall had been very beneficial for the quality and sizing of this year’s crop, with production expected to reach 51,000 tonnes, a slight increase on last year’s total. Around half of this (25,000 tonnes) will be sold under the label.
During a ceremony attended by ten regional chefs who between them hold a dozen Michelin stars, the first pomegranate of the season was symbolically cut from the tree. The choice of the chefs served to highlight the fruit’s versatility as a culinary ingredient.
“Pomegranates are a product that can be easily adapted to dishes, bringing contrast, which is what my cooking is all about,” said chef Ricard Camarena.
“They stand out for their seasonality, defining a very particular period of the year, and deserve further exploration as an ingredient.”
Around 70 per cent of the Mollar de Elche crop is exported, with Germany, France and the Netherlands among the biggest markets.
In recent years, the sector has been hit by the Russian veto and uncertainties caused by Brexit, and exporters are increasingly eyeing new markets such as the Middle East and Southeast Asia.