| Ibergarlic Sl works in the production, packing and export of Spanish garlic. The company was established in 1999 by Manuel Lopez and Alexis Mul, who have worked together in the production of garlic since 1989. Mul is also the director of the import and export company Temu in Alkmaar, which has just started to specialised in Chinese garlic. According to the Dutchman, who lives in Spanish Cordoba since 2002, these two activities are not mutually exclusive. "Instead we can offer a wide variety. For some clients we prepare mixed pallets of Spanish and Chinese garlic."
"When Chinese garlic arrived in big quantities on the market, my father - the founder of Temu - mentioned that he expected it to be over for Spanish garlic. We are now twenty years down the line, but we are still here," Alexis says. "This year Spanish garlic was very cheap, even cheaper than the Chinese. A lot of Spanish garlic of lower quality was also sold, this is mostly gone from the market now, but I do expect the market to increase. But we had a good year. With the Morado-garlic we approach the higher market sector."
Stronger taste Spanish garlicAlexis himself is positive about his garlic preference. "Spanish garlic is of better quality, more durable and especially the red Morado-garlic has a much stronger taste. Spanish garlic grows longer and has a much higher percentage of internal moisture. The difference is that Chinese garlic looks beautiful, but a real connoisseur knows better. The Morado-garlic delivers far less kilos, but there is a special market for it, where we really feel at home."
The most important buyers of Spanish garlic are supermarkets in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia. "But just as easily we supply in Poland," Alexis says. "Our clients are supermarkets, which require a guaranteed quality and also pay for it. We were the first in Spain with the then EurepGap-certificate and are also Tesco Nurture and BRC-certified."
The Spanish harvest will start in the beginning of May with garlic from Chinese seeds, followed by Spanish white garlic and the Morado-garlic in the second half of June. There is hardly any competition from other European growing areas, according to Alexis. "France supplies larger garlic sizes and Italy mainly grows for the local market. The Spanish productions are reasonably stable."
Garlic still continues to be grown in Europe due to the license system, resulting in first class garlic. The problem, however, is that licences could be applied on the basis of the quantity of an arbitrary choice of fruit and vegetables - therefore not specifically garlic - which those companies from outside of the European Union had imported with the result that companies, which were never involved with garlic, could acquire large garlic licences to be able to profit from them. It would undoubtedly have been a lot better, if licences had only been issued on the basis of the quantity of imported garlic," Alexis explains.
"Indigenous North Europeans normally do not buy more than one small net with three bulbs of garlic per month. Whilst people with a Turkish or Moroccan background will look for bigger, cheaper bulbs, which are being sold loose, as garlic is one of the main ingredients in their dishes," Alexis concludes.