José Moreno comes from a family of farmers in Frigiliana. While farming has been his family’s life, the 59-year-old has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and for the last two decades he has been at the head of Marmosa S.C.A., a company that produces avocado oil. Now, after surviving the pandemic, when orders were reduced by 60 per cent, he is confident that the family business, which is based in Algarrobo, will be able to get back on its feet.
His three children, Consuelo, 30, Eva, 27 and José, 26, have now joined the family business, which in 2019 produced 100 tonnes of avocado oil. 70 per cent was exported, mainly to Poland, Germany and France, although there were also shipments to China and Taiwan. Among the most common uses of their product are cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, industry and foodstuffs.
"We work to order, depending on what each client wants. We prepare the avocado oil with the different varieties that exist," says Moreno. So far this year they have already produced 70 tonnes, so they hope to close the year with a similar figure to that of 2019. Thirty percent of production stays in Spain. Ninety percent is sold in bulk, but the remaining 10 per cent is packaged in different formats, under the Marmosa brand.
Moreno says that for cosmetic use, avocado oil is used in creams, body oils, lip balms and soaps, among other products, while in the pharmaceutical sector its applications range from facilitating the absorption of treatments through the skin and it is also used in medicines thanks to its high antioxidant content. In industry it is used to grease precision machinery thanks to its high resistance.
On its website Marmosa offers a wide range of cosmetic products, including packs of avocado oil with aromas such as chocolate, raspberry, lemon and orange, for hair oils, body oils, nourishing and moisturising creams, lip protectors and soaps. The company's annual turnover is between 60,000 and 100,000 euros. Almost all the avocados used to make their oils come from the Axarquía, so the production season runs from November to April, with the different varieties of avocado, including fuerte, bacon and hass.
"The price per kilo of avocado has risen a lot in recent years, so it is becoming increasingly complicated to balance the numbers, the demand for the fresh fruit and for guacamole has not stopped growing," explains Moreno, who recognises the "enormous concern" over the drought situation that has been affecting the Axarquía for some months. "We are expecting a shorter season and smaller sizes. Let's hope that it rains properly once and for all,” he adds.
In terms of food use, Moreno believes that avocado growing “is not a profitable option," despite having recently obtained the correct certificates in order to sell the fruit as a food item.
In addition to avocado oil, Marmosa has a line of olive oil made from the Nevadillo de la Axarquía variety of olives, under the brand name "Oro Axarquía," from the half a thousand olive trees the family own in Frigiliana. They produce around 1,600 kilos of oil per year.
Moreno's daughter Eva, who graduated in 2019 with a double degree in Architecture and Civil Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Cartagena, says that she has joined her parents' business project "with enthusiasm and excitement" to contribute her knowledge. "We are promoting more efficient irrigation systems on our farms and more sustainable production using solar panels," says Eva, who also intends to improve the design of the company's website, www.marmosa.com.