Geography and climate are key factors in determining where grapes can be grown, and how well they may do in a specific location. Because of its varying altitudes and unique microclimates, Murcia in the southeast of Spain, is the country’s most important and successful region for growing table grapes. It’s here that family-owned company Moyca, that puts innovation and joy at its core, operates. These producers offer a huge range of exclusive varieties to Spinneys. We hear from CEO Enrique Moya and sales director Fina Mena...
Today, Moyca is one of the largest producers of seedless grapes in Spain. Where and how did it all begin?
Enrique: Like many start-up companies, we began with a mixture of family traditions and innovation. My father-in-law, Luis Cánovas, comes from a grape farming family – they focussed on seeded grapes. I am a qualified agricultural engineer. Together, we looked at the possibilities of developing new crops and we came across the idea of developing seedless varieties of grapes.
We started on this adventure 25 years ago. We have gone from having two or three varieties of grapes with little value, but with a lot of flavour, to being very successful. Seedless grapes used to be eaten only by children or elderly people – and there weren’t too many options available. Now, because of the availability of varietals developed by universities and private breeding programmes around the world, it means that we, and the industry, can provide many more new and fantastic-tasting grapes to a wider audience.
Grapes are grown under nets to protect them from the elements
Testing berry sizes
How many breeding programmes does Moyca work with?
Enrique: Something that really sets us apart is the fact that we work with five or six important, and considerably developed, programmes. Being able to produce varieties from all these programmes means that we can be more innovative in terms of offering grapes in various shapes and sizes that offer distinct aromas, new tastes and greater added value such as being high in antioxidants or containing essential minerals such as calcium or selenium.
How many varieties are you growing at the moment?
Fina: Right now, we have 52 different varieties. And many of these are exclusive to Moyca, such as our Strawgrape, Ralli, Funny Finger, Sweet Mayabelle, Muscat Beauty and some exclusive Cotton Candy varieties – just to name a few. We’re proud of all this exclusivity as it means the breeders trust us, which means we can keep developing new varieties with them in our trial blocks.
Ralli grapes have a crisp, juicy bite
Midnight Beauty grapes
Apart from the farm in Badajoz in the southwest, most of Moyca’s farms are in the southeast of Spain such as Alicante, Almeria but mainly Murcia. What makes the latter ideal for grape production?
Enrique: The Murcia region is approximately 5,000km2 and within this area you not only have the coast or sea, but also nearby mountain ranges, which vary from 1,000-2,000 metres in height. This means that we can grow grapes at different altitudes, which allows us to have early harvests of certain varieties in late June, and then harvest that same variety at a different altitude, a month, or month and a half, later. This situation is difficult to replicate elsewhere in the world, because normally grape production takes place in deserts or in valleys that have similar altitudes and climates. In Murcia, we have many microclimates within a distance of 70 or 80 miles.
Moyca has 2,200 hectares of land for production and five pack houses! How many tonnes of grapes do you pack per season?
Fina: This year, from June to November we’re looking at packing 70,000 tonnes of grapes! That is approximately 500-600 tonnes per day in peak season. We’re planning to increase our number of farms, in the future – so I think we may need an extra pack house.
All grapes are handpicked and trimmed before being sent to pack houses
The interiors of Moyca’s five pack houses are bright and colourful spaces. Workers are colour coordinated according to the fruit they sort and pack.
The happy atmosphere in your HQ and pack houses is infectious. And entering the Moyca world is a bit like stepping into a healthy version of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory that’s filled with natural candy. How have you established such a great working environment and why is this important to you?
Enrique: We started out as a family business and it is important to us that our family grows. Fina and I are probably the oldest in this company – otherwise we are surrounded by young and dynamic people.
Working in the fields can be difficult and tough. As is working in the warehouses. We’ve always made it a priority to add a little joy and happiness to the lives of our colleagues. We make sure that we have comfortable and safe environments. We work with colourful fruit, so we surround ourselves with colour. We all like listening to music, so we play songs. We work with passion and joy. All this contributes to great cohesion. We have more than 6,000 employees and having cohesion is something for which I always strive.