Portugal Projects Record-Setting Exports

Exports are expected to reach €600 million -- a strong confirmation of the growing role of olive oil production in the national economy.
Monte da Oliveira Velha - Amor é Cego
Monte da Oliveira Velha - Amor é Cego
Nov. 17, 2020
Paolo DeAndreis

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A reduced olive yield in Portugal will not hin­der the growth of its olive oil exports, accord­ing to the Portuguese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development.

Lisbon expects exports to reach €600 mil­lion in 2020, up from €518 mil­lion in 2019 and €177 mil­lion in 2008, accord­ing to TrendEconomy, an inter­na­tional trade database.

Minister of Agriculture Maria do Céu Antunes said the trend demon­strates the growth of a dynamic” sec­tor show­ing great vitality.”

Currently, Portugal pro­duces 160 per­cent of the olive oil it needs,” she said. This means that we can count on a very large export capacity.”

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During a visit to a major olive oil pro­ducer in the Beja area, in Alentejo, the min­is­ter spoke with sev­eral local jour­nal­ists and empha­sized how olive oil exports will play a major part in the government’s efforts to reduce the trade deficit.

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That is hap­pen­ing, she said, thanks to the great dynam­ics” of the sec­tor shown not only by the com­pet­i­tive pro­duc­tion” of the inten­sive olive groves, but also by more tra­di­tional pro­duc­tion.”

The rel­e­vance of the sec­tor, the min­is­ter added, is due to its abil­ity of con­nect­ing peo­ple to the ter­ri­to­ries,” not only in the olive oil pro­duc­tion, but also in the related sec­tors, such as tourism and gastronomy.”

Furthermore, the gov­ern­ment expects exports to grow this year, in spite of a pro­duc­tion decline in the 2020/21 olive har­vest.

According to the most recent esti­mates of the Alentejo Olive Oil Association (Olivum), pro­duc­tion will reach 100,000 tons this year. In the 2019/20 crop year, Portugal pro­duced a record-high 140,000 tons, a fig­ure that Olivum largely attrib­uted to the country’s heavy invest­ment in mech­a­nized har­vest­ing and super-high-den­sity olive groves.

Gonçalo de Almeida Simões, Olivum’s exec­u­tive direc­tor, told the local news agency LUSA that Alentejo, the most impor­tant Portuguese pro­duc­ing region, will yield 75,000 tons, down from the 100,000 tons pro­duced in the pre­vi­ous year. Alentejo, which com­prises almost 30 per­cent of Portugal’s land area, is respon­si­ble for about 75 per­cent of the coun­try’s olive production.

Those num­bers, added de Almeida Simões, do not come as a sur­prise for the sec­tor” since many of the country’s pro­duc­ers were enter­ing an off-year.

According to Olivum, the expected pro­duc­tion drop will be com­pen­sated by the high qual­ity of this year’s yield.

It will be a good har­vest,” de Almeida Simões said. We expect that 95 per­cent of the olive oil pro­duced in Portugal will be vir­gin and extra vir­gin olive oil.”

That is good news, he added, since olive oil con­sump­tion is grow­ing seven-per­cent world­wide this year.”

Portugal has been invest­ing in the mod­ern­iza­tion of the olive sec­tor over the last 20 years, in order to match the pace of grow­ing inter­na­tional competition.

De Almeida Simões empha­sized how olive oil com­pa­nies in the coun­try are mostly owned by Portuguese entre­pre­neurs who have been able to attract con­sid­er­able for­eign invest­ments from as close as Spain and as far away as Saudi Arabia and Chile.

During her visit in Beja, do Céu Antunes also high­lighted the government’s efforts to inte­grate dif­fer­ent sec­tors to help mod­ern­ize and grow the country’s olive oil production.

We are work­ing with the pro­duc­ers, the uni­ver­si­ties, the poly­tech­nics to offer them sup­port and infor­ma­tion that demon­strate the vital­ity of the olive oil sec­tor and its con­tri­bu­tion to social val­oriza­tion, eco­nomic stim­uli and the preser­va­tion of the envi­ron­ment,” she said.





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