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Cauliflower season kicks off for PGI Coliflor de Calahora

"We seek to differentiate cauliflowers, make them a first class vegetable"

The start of the autumn marks the beginning of the cauliflower campaign for the Protected Geographical Indication Coliflor de Calahorra. At the moment, the volumes available are still limited and prices are high, but in just a couple of weeks the season will already be in full swing. 

"Although this year we planted a small amount of early varieties to have product available from early October, we'll have to wait until November for production to reach its full capacity, which is also the month when consumption increases due to the arrival of the cold," explains Eriz Zumárraga, of the commercial department of the SAT Valle Rincón, the cooperative that markets the product under the umbrella of the PGI Coliflor de Calahorra.

Eriz explains that, in the past, Calahorra, in La Rioja, played a major role as a point of distribution of the product to traditional markets nationwide, although with the passage of time it has become less important because of competition from other producing areas and changes in the distribution channels.

Calahorra cauliflowers are grown in small plots on the banks of the Ebro close to other vegetables typical of the area, such as artichokes or cabbage.

"It was decided to create the PGI to differentiate our cauliflowers from those of other producing areas in Spain, located mainly in the Levant. Climate, soil and good care are the three distinguishing features that make our cauliflowers unique. Furthermore, the temperature contrast between day and night is ideal to grow this crop; we have shorter winters and high solar luminosity. Then there is the soil, rich in sediments from the Ebro river, and last, but not least, the growing methods of our producers: very traditional, with only manual handling and great care; a friendly agriculture that respects the environment and the rhythm dictated by nature. As a result, we have a more compact, tastier and whiter cauliflower," he affirms.

There are over 1,600,000 cauliflower units in Calahorra grown on a total of 80 hectares

According to Eriz, cauliflower consumption is highly variable and subject to conditions such as the weather, availability, quality, etc., unlike other more stable products, such as broccoli.

"We want to dignify the product, since it has historically been considered a second class vegetable. It is certainly difficult to find dishes made with cauliflower in the menus of fancy restaurants. We want to change this perception of the product, since this vegetable offers a number of possibilities for consumption and probably the biggest mistake we make with it is overcooking it, causing it to lose properties and flavour."

"It is true also that broccoli has gained a lot of ground on cauliflowers as a substitute, as it is easier to buy, to clean and to prepare; attributes which are also highlighted in huge marketing campaigns. For our part, we need to carry out marketing campaigns in both directions; explaining the benefits of eating cauliflowers and emphasising the unique features of our product, but the budget we have is still limited," he points out.

With certifications like GlobalG.A.P. and BRC, the cooperative SAT Valle Rincón sells cauliflowers under the PGI Coliflor de Calahorra, collaborating with retail chains in Spain, but also exporting quite regularly to France and Belgium. "As with any product, the final word rests with the consumer; our challenge now is to give visibility to our product on the shelves, trying to reach consumers who can appreciate its flavour."

For more information:
Eriz Zumárraga
SAT Valle Rincón
Polígono Varillas, calle A, s/n
26550 Rincón de Soto, La Rioja, Spain
T: +34 941 14 17 04
M: +34 608 78 00 34

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