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Manzanilla, Gordal Olives from Seville Get PGI

Despite some opposition, Manzanilla and Gordal olive varieties from Seville were finally granted a Protected Geographical Indication in Spain.

Nov. 5, 2018
By Rosa Gonzalez-Lamas

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Manzanilla and Gordal Olive from Seville have been granted a tran­si­tory Spanish pro­tec­tion as Protected Geographical Indications (PGI,) the stage pre­ced­ing their final admit­tance to the European Union’s reg­istry of qual­ity indi­ca­tions of origin.

The deter­mi­na­tion fol­lows Andalusia’s Department of Agriculture, Fishing and Rural Development’s approval of the bylaws that will rule the Regulatory Council respon­si­ble for guar­an­tee­ing the qual­ity and origin of these two PGIs that pro­tect extra and prime qual­ity table olives from Manzanilla and Gordal vari­eties from an area demar­cated by 105 munic­i­pal­i­ties in the province of Seville and eleven in the province of Huelva.

Seville is the world’s top pro­ducer of table olives and the pro­ducer of 75 per­cent of Spain’s table olives. The province also con­cen­trates the pro­duc­tion of Gordal and of the major­ity of Spain’s Manzanilla pro­duc­tion.

A very appre­ci­ated vari­ety, Manzanilla has a round form, a pale color, a rather small size, thin skin and a good food pulp/stone ratio. It is sym­met­ri­cal, and its pulp is easily sep­a­rated from the stone. Gordal is larger in size, asym­met­ric, has an ovoid shape and much more pulp, albeit less oil con­tent which makes it very apt for Seville-style dress­ings.

Manzanilla Olive from Seville and Gordal Olive from Seville are the green table olives from these two vari­eties, dressed in the tra­di­tional manner of their geo­graphic region. Green olives dressed in Seville-style brine could be of three kinds: whole olives, pitted and stuffed.

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Olives are hand-picked through “ordeño” system (hand pick­ing each olive, one by one) before they are ripe, to pre­vent damage in the fruits. The suit­able olives are then selected and clas­si­fied accord­ing to their size, prior to being dressed Sevilla-style and washed. Preservation and stor­age based on whether they are whole, pitted or stuffed table olives follow and con­clude the process.

The route towards a PGI began in 2014 with the cre­ation of the Association for the Promotion of Manzanilla and Gordal Olive Varieties from Seville. This group was con­sti­tuted by key olive com­pa­nies to pro­mote and pro­tect the olives from Seville and these two vari­eties in the Spanish and inter­na­tional mar­kets through the enhance­ment of their dis­tinct iden­tity based on qual­ity and tra­di­tion.

Their inten­tion to estab­lish a PGI for Manzanilla and Gordal from Seville’s olives was opposed by ASEMESA (Spanish Association of Exporters and Industrialists of Table Olives,) respon­si­ble for the pro­duc­tion and com­mer­cial­iza­tion of the major­ity of Spain’s table olives and also of table olives from Manzanilla and Gordal vari­eties.

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ASEMESA claimed that the new PGI would limit and restrict rights that for a long time had belonged to the entire table olive sector and would impact Manzanilla olives grown and pro­duced out­side of Seville, Manzanilla olives grown in Seville that did not comply with the stip­u­la­tions of the new PGI, and olives from other vari­eties grown in Seville.

In October 2017 these claims were dis­missed by Andalusian courts, allow­ing the cre­ation of the PGI to pros­per.

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The European Union allows member states to grant a tran­si­tory and national pro­tec­tion to a PGI. This tran­si­tory status will be in effect from the moment of the appli­ca­tion to the European Commission until the moment in which the reg­is­tra­tion is either con­firmed or with­drawn.