Ángel Robledo / © ICEX
Spain is one of the world's biggest traders in the market for hazelnuts, being in fourth position in both production and exports. This high level of activity contrasts with Spain's limited growing area, which is concentrated in the province of Tarragona, in Catalonia. The name of the city of Reus, well-known for hazelnut production and exports, has been given to the only Designation of Origin for hazelnuts in Spain, the Avellana de Reus PDO.
Cultivation of hazelnuts in Spain dates back to the 12th century, and systematic exporting began in Catalonia at the end of the 19th century. The Negreta hazelnut is the main variety produced and exported. It is of large size and has a medium-hard shell, almost completely filled by the nut. Together with other varieties, it is covered by the Protected Designation of Origin Avellana de Reus, in the Catalonian province of Tarragona.
Some of the hazelnut crop goes, alongside almonds, to the production of turrón , a traditional Spanish Christmas sweet, but most are used in confectionery as a common ingredient of chocolate and of the popular cocoa spreads. Hazelnuts are also used in certain traditional sauces, such as the Catalonian romesco.