Fantastic calçots season comes to an end with more than 15 million sold

The Catalan onion tradition grew in popularity both at home and abroad

A bunch of Mercabarna 'calçots' prepared for sale (Photo: Àlex Recolons)
A bunch of Mercabarna 'calçots' prepared for sale (Photo: Àlex Recolons) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

April 17, 2019 02:20 PM

The season of ‘calçots’ is coming to an end for another year, with record numbers of sales of the green onion exceeding expectations.

Mercabarna, Catalonia’s fresh produce and meat wholesalers, have announced that sales of the local scallion will surpass 15 million for the first time in history. The numbers beat the record of sales set in 2018, when 14.3 million units of the ‘calçots’ were sold.

Exports grew this season between 5-10%, with the main foreign markets for the Catalan onion being France, Belgium, and Germany, while the dish is also becoming more and more popular in restaurants and gourmet vegetable stores in London too.

Demand is also increasing across Spain, with festivals of calçotada growing especially in restaurants in Madrid, Aragon, and the Balearic Islands.

Barbecue-style celebration

The calçot is a type of long white and green spring onion that is one of the most traditional foods in Catalonia. They are in season between January and April each year, and it is customary to eat them barbecue-style accompanied by their own unique special sauce, similar to romesco.

Good weather over winter weekends and a particularly fruitful harvest of calçots this year have been the primary reasons for the uptick in sales. “This season has been crazy,” a spokesperson for the Mercabarna wholesalers said.

Valls, centre of the calçot universe

A 'calçot' is a type of long white spring onion cultivated in a special way. These onions are called 'calçots' because while they are growing the farmer has to 'calçar-les' -wrap the onions with soil- many times. This process gives 'calçots' their characteristic long shape.

The Catalan town of Valls is the centre of the calçot universe, with 40,000 flocking there annually for the ‘Gran Festa de la Calçotada’, the festival to open the traditional scallion season, usually held on the last weekend of January.

At this celebration, visitors are shown how to properly cook the long vegetable over open fire, how to make the authentic sauce to accompany them, and even compete in a calçot-eating contest.