Gazpacho: How the Spanish classic is set to conquer the world

Long a staple of the Spanish diet, gazpacho -the chilled soup made from a puree of tomatoes and other vegetables - is gaining space on supermarket shelves further afield in Europe and beyond.

Gazpacho: How the Spanish classic is set to conquer the world
An employee works in the gazpacho lab at the AMC INNOVA factory in Espinardo near Murcia. Pictures by Jose Jordan.

While the dish is a speciality of Andalusia in southern Spain, the country's three top producers of gazpacho are all based in the neighbouring region of Murcia, which is often called “Europe's orchard” because it is a centre of fruit and vegetable production.

Alvalle, a unit of PepsiCo which along with Garcia Carrion and AMC Natural Drinks account for nearly three-quarters of the world's industrial production of gazpacho, was the first to make major inroads abroad.

It launched its gazpacho in neighbouring France in 2009, 19 years after it was founded.

Today the company exports over half of its production, mainly to other countries in Europe, with France its number one foreign market.   

“It was Alvalle that opened the door… Then all supermarkets started asking us for gazpacho,” said Monica Perez Alhama, head of product development at rival firm AMC.

AMC's main foreign market is France as well but it also exports to Canada, the United States and Japan.

The most frequently found gazpacho is made by pounding tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, water, vinegar, cucumbers and green peppers, with bread sometimes added to thicken the soup and soften acid from the tomatoes and vinegar.

But Spain's big three producers have sought to expand their range by developing modern variations of gazpacho featuring rosemary, strawberries, wine vinegar, sherry, mangos and other ingredients, as well as launching brands that use organic vegetables.

The aim is to “compete with homemade gazpacho,” said Fernando Marin Romero, AMC commercial director for Spain and Portugal.

Tailored recipes


Last year, Spain produced 67 million litres (14.1 million gallons) of gazpacho, according to market research firm Nielsen, with the bulk of it consumed in the warmer months between Easter and September.

Machines crush, wash and filter thousands of kilos each day at AMC's sprawling gazpacho plant in Murcia, the capital of the region that shares the same name.

Trucks loaded with barrels holding a thousand litres of extra virgin olive oil circulate between refrigerated tanks containing 25,000 litres of gazpacho.    

The liquid is then poured into cardboard bricks decorated with pictures of bright red tomatoes which are folded by sophisticated machines at a frantic pace.

Spain's top three gazpacho producers posted a combined turnover of 119.2 million euros ($142 million) between April 2018 and April 2019, according to market research firm Alimarket.

To enter markets abroad, they have tailored their recipes to foreign tastes.    

“In countries like France they like the product with less salt, in other countries in northern Europe they like it with a stronger tomato flavour,” said Marin Romero, of AMC.

Local produce


When marketing their products abroad, the companies highlight the fact that the soup is part of a healthy Mediterranean diet and stress they use locally sourced ingredients.

And they try to allay concerns over the use of industrial agriculture by stressing their efforts to reduce water and energy consumption.    

Alvalle, for example, boasts that all of the vegetables it uses are picked within a radius of 200 kilometres (125 miles) from its new plant in Alcantarilla just outside of Murcia.

The company says that the 28,000-square-metre (301,000-square-foot)plant, which it opened in 2017, uses electricity from 100-percent renewable sources and consumes 30 percent less water than its previous plant.

Industrial gazpacho has a shelf life of between 60 and 70 days but in response to consumer demand for fresher products, Spain's gazpacho producers have also put out non-pasteurised versions.

The companies have had to educate foreign consumers on how to drink gazpacho.

Alvalle's British web page warns consumers not to heat it otherwise it is “more like a warm soup” and reassures buyers that it is suitable for children

By AFP's Marie Giffard




Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Where can you get free tapas in Spain?

Not everywhere will offer you free tapas in Spain, but there are some cities where the tradition lives on. Read on to find out where they are, how you can get a free 'tapa' and the slight differences between each place.

Where can you get free tapas in Spain?

Tapas are an important part of Spanish culture, not only because of the gastronomical aspect but because of the social aspect of sharing dishes too. 

The word ‘tapa’ – meaning ‘lid’ – is thought to derive from a 13th-century law passed by a Castilian king requiring taverns to serve food with alcohol, perhaps in a bid to avoid inebriation of the serfs.

A ‘tapa’ was a small plate of ham or olives used as a lid to keep insects and dust away from a drink and usually came free. 

The tradition of free tapas has died out across much of Spain, but there are still some cities where it is alive and well. Most of these cities can be found in three regions – the eastern part of Andalusia, Castilla y León and Galicia. 

READ ALSO: Fourteen classic Spanish dishes to celebrate World Tapas Day


Granada is the undisputed king of free tapas in Spain, famed for its offerings which can be anything from a piece of Spanish tortilla to almost a whole meal, such as a mini burger and fries or small fried fish. It works like this – each time you buy a drink, you will be given a free tapas dish. If you order consecutive drinks in the same bar, each of the tapa dishes you get will be different. Free tapa will come with everything from beer and wine to soft drinks and sparkling water, but not with coffee or tea. Keep in mind that the price of drinks in Granada is slightly higher than in some Spanish cities, which helps to cover the cost of the food.

Calle Navas, Calle Virgen del Rosario and the area around the Cathedral offer some of the best tapas in the city. Remember that if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, ask for una tapa vegetariana o tapa vegana. While most bars in the city should have a suitable alternative, some of the more rough and ready ones might not, or you may just get something simple like bread and cheese. One of Granada’s best-loved vegetarian tapas dishes is berenjena con miel (deep fried aubergine drizzled with treacle). 

READ ALSO: What to order at a restaurant in each region of Spain


Just southeast of Granada on the coast, Almería is another of Spain’s great free-tapas cities. The tradition is a little different here than in other Spanish cities because you get to choose your tapa instead of just getting a surprise. Many of the tapas menus here are vast and you’ll be spoilt for choice. It could be anything from a goat’s cheese and caramelised onion montadito (small sandwich) to paté on toast. Almeríans love their toast, so don’t be surprised if you find many different variations of topped toasts on the menu.

You’ll also have to speak up here, waiters will often come over to ask for your drink order, but not come back and ask for your tapa order. It’s best to tell your waiter what you want when your drinks arrive.

You may be able to get a free pulpo (octopus) tapa in Galicia. Photo: MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP


The city and province of the same name to the north of Granada is also known for its tapa gratis when ordering a drink. Like in Granada, here you’ll be given the tapa of the house and generally won’t be given a choice in what you get. The prices of beers here are not as high as in Almería, but tapas portions are generally pretty generous, meaning you can easily have enough for dinner by going to just a few places.

Dishes here may include a plate of migas (fried breadcrumbs or flour with pieces of meat and fried peppers) or morcilla (blood sausage or black pudding). You can try asking for a vegetarian or vegan tapa here too, but the bars may not be as accommodating as the ones in Granada and may not have so many options, although they will try with what they have. 


It’s not just the eastern provinces of Andalusia where you can get free tapas. One of the best foodie cities in northern Spain that has carried on this tradition is León. Some of the most typical tapas dishes you may be served here include patatas leonesas (León-style potatoes), or morcilla de León (blood sausage or black pudding from León).

During the pandemic, a few bars in León started charging around €0.30 to €0.50 for tapas, but you’ll be happy to know that the majority of them still offer it for free. Bars will generally charge less for the wine, beers and other drinks here than in Granada too. The best places to go are around the famed Barrio del Húmedo or the Barrio Romántico. There are even some bars that will offer free tapas with your coffee order for breakfast here, which is unheard of elsewhere. 


In almost every bar in Ávila you will be served a free tapa along with your drink. You’re unlikely to be served a simple piece of bread with a topping, here the dishes are almost like mini meals. Much of the cuisine here is based on meat, so you might expect a small plate of stewed wild boar or kidney with potatoes.

You will also find that they’re pretty big compared to free tapas in some other cities and filling too, but along with that, you will be paying slightly above average for your drink. The best street to head to for free tapas here is Calle San Segundo.

Alcalá de Henares

There may only be some bars left in Madrid that will offer you a free tapa with your drink, but head just east to the student town of Alcalá de Henares and you’ll find that they’re given out freely. Lots of places here will let you choose what you want too. You’ll pay above average for a caña here, around 3, but for that you’ll get a fairly decent tapa which could include patatas bravas, burgers or scrambled eggs with potatoes.

READ ALSO: Top ten Madrid bars serving free tapas, one for each barrio

Santiago de Compostela

When you’ve finally completed the Camino, what could be better than sitting down to a nice cold beer and plate of free tapas? The majority of bars here offer simple tapa such as a piece of bread with some type of meat on top, such as jamón or sausage or a small slice of tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelette).

Another Galician place, known for offering free tapas is the walled city of Lugo. Here you’ll be given a free snack with your glass of Albariño wine or beer. Lugo’s tapas scene works differently from elsewhere too, here a waiter will come around with a tray of various types of dishes and you’ll select the one you like the look of best. These may include anything from pulpo (octopus) to empanadas (Galician-style pies), tortilla rellena (filled omelette) or anchoas (anchovies).