Gonçalo Almeida Simões has been appointed as the first-ever executive director of the Alentejo Olive Oil Association (Olivum), in Portugal.
“My appointment is related to the fact that Olivum is now focused on communicating better with external stakeholders and marketing,” he told Olive Oil Times. “The olive oil sector wants to remain one of the main economic strengths in Portugal.”
Almeida Simões comes into the position after working in public and government affairs in Brussels for the past 15 years. He previously worked at the food unit of the Portuguese Permanent Representation to the E.U. and as a senior advisor to the E.U. head of the office of the Portuguese Farmer’ Confederation.
With his appointment, Almeida Simões brings knowledge about the strict agricultural standards set by the E.U. — including those related to the environment, biodiversity, water and phytosanitary issues — all of which are relevant for the region’s olive oil producers.
Alentejo is the largest olive oil-producing region in Portugal and is responsible for roughly 85 percent of production.
In a recent report, two consulting firms predicted that Portugal is on pace to become the third-largest global olive oil producer by 2030 and Alentejo will lead the way in its rise to the top.
“Since the sector is performing pretty well on the economic side, the focus will now turn into communicating the sector performance on environmental and social sustainability,” Almeida Simões said. “The main priority will be to grow in a sustainable way having always in mind the quality of the Portuguese olive oil as the main growth driver.”