Cordoba, with some 2,600 cultivated hectares, is the leading garlic producer in Andalusia, accounting for 40 percent of the region's total acreage, which amounts to just over 5,400 hectares. The company La Abuela Carmen, founded 40 years ago, is a family business which opted for innovation with the launch of black garlic. The product became successful and is now exported to the five continents, allowing the company to grow in size.
"The company has developed extraordinarily well; we have gone from being a small company with very modest headquarters to becoming a large company, with more than 30,000 square meters of facilities and very modern machinery, adapted to the new times," says Manuel Vaquero, executive director and CEO of La Abuela Carmen.
About three decades ago, China started to intensify its garlic production and managed to become the world's leading producer, eventually accounting for 80 percent of the total volume worldwide. This situation, which pushed prices down, caused things to become tougher for exporters in other countries. In order to handle the situation, La Abuela Carmen launched its already famous black garlic, a product which is subject to special ripening processes that make it sweet and odorless, and which has captivated the most demanding palates.
At first, it was a gourmet product that was used mainly in haute cuisine, but in recent years, its consumption has spread and the black garlic of La Abuela Carmen is already sold in most supermarkets.
Sales continue to grow year after year and the company closed 2018 with a turnover of around 20 million Euro; a figure that is expected to increase this year.
Most of this company's black garlic is sold in the domestic market; however, 80 percent of conventional garlic is exported outside of Spain, mainly to EU countries, but also to other places, such as the United States, South America, Australia, North Africa and Japan.
La Abuela Carmen, which already has a leading position in the sector, is also working with universities in research projects that will make it possible to create new products. Such products are expected to hit the market in the coming years.