Julio Lucio Alonso, founder of the company Tropicales Costa de la Luz, was a pioneer in the production of tropical crops in the Spanish province of Huelva, setting up an avocado plantation in the Isla Cristina area some 30 years ago.
"My father became interested in avocado cultivation thanks to a colleague who traveled a lot to South America and insisted on growing it in Huelva. He worked at that time as an agricultural technician in a farm, where he planted the first avocados and mangoes," explains Pilar Lucio, current general and commercial manager at the family business Tropicales Costa de la Luz.
As a pioneer, the firm had to face an endless number of problems in the beginning, some due to the weather. "While temperatures have now become milder, frosts were common in Isla Cristina 30 years ago, and this made the agricultural tasks more difficult. There is also the fact that avocados were largely unknown in the market." In spite of all this, Julio Lucio continued conducting tests on his own farm, focusing on mangoes, which were adapting better to the climate.
A variety of its own
Nowadays, Tropicales Costa de la Luz is specialized in the production of mangoes, with some 12 hectares devoted to the crop and a production of around 80,000 kilos, which are sold in both the domestic and the export market. It has a mango variety of its own which is adapted to the conditions of the province of Huelva, and which is currently in the registration phase. It is called Luz and is characterized by its smaller caliber, its fiberlessness and a greater sweetness, since it reaches between 14 and 18 Brix degrees.
The company also continues to innovate and to bet on new crops. Thus, after a number of tests, it already has guava and litchis on sale, with great demand in Portugal, and they continue testing other fruits, such as the Buddha's hand, lime and citrus caviar.
For this family business, the focus in the future will continue "to be on mango cultivation" and they will not let the current avocado craze influence strategy, since "when the many new plantations in Huelva become productive, the price of avocados, which is now high, will fall. This has already happened with kakis and blueberries. Furthermore, if the United States closes the door to Mexico, the world's leading producer of avocados, all that production will end up in Europe," says manager Pilar Lucio.