Portugal's Skyrocketing Olive Oil Industry

In 2016, Portugal became the seventh largest olive oil producer and the fourth largest olive oil exporting country.

Portugal's Douro Valley
May. 17, 2017
By Jun Cola
Portugal's Douro Valley

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Over the last decade, Portugal has quadru­pled its pro­duc­tion of olive oil and tripled its vol­ume of exports.

The fig­ures rep­re­sent a rad­i­cal shift in the country’s olive oil indus­try, effec­tively bring­ing an end to its olive oil imports and mak­ing it the fourth-largest exporter of the liq­uid gold.

According to Luís Vieira, Portugal’s agri­cul­tural sec­re­tary of state, the fig­ures rep­re­sent a trade bal­ance sur­plus of €170 mil­lion ($187 mil­lion) in 2016,” adding that Portugal has gone from a net importer with a deficit of €50 mil­lion ($55 mil­lion) in 2008, to a sur­plus trade bal­ance.”
See Also:This Year’s Best Olive Oils from Portugal

During the open­ing ses­sion of the National Olive Oil Congress in Valpaços, Vieira also noted that Portugal’s over­all value of olive oil exports reached €434 mil­lion ($477 mil­lion) in 2016.

In 2016, Portugal became the sev­enth-largest olive oil pro­ducer and the fourth-largest olive oil export­ing coun­try, reach­ing 434 mil­lion euros,” Vieira empha­sized. The country’s suc­cess was due, in large part, to a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors which altered the land­scape of the indus­try.


New fields of irri­ga­tion were delin­eated, espe­cially in the Alqueva region, and invest­ments in inno­v­a­tive tech­nolo­gies soon fol­lowed. Once pro­duc­tive struc­tures received an upgrade, Portugal’s olive oil indus­try, led by the south-cen­tral and south­ern region of Alentejo, soared to new heights.

The new real­ity led Vieira to believe that olive oil pro­duc­tion could reach 120,000 tons by 2020, largely as a result of the intro­duc­tion of new olive groves.” The coun­try’s pro­duc­tion in 1990 was 20,000 tons mean­ing, if Vieira’s esti­mate proves accu­rate, Portugal will have increased pro­duc­tion six-fold in 30 years.

Investment poli­cies in the sec­tor have played a key role in Portugal’s emer­gence as a major olive oil pro­ducer and exporter. Between 2007 and 2014, the Rural Development Program (PRODER) pro­vided sup­port to some 4,000 invest­ment projects amount­ing to €700 mil­lion ($769 mil­lion).

The num­bers described, after a period of stag­na­tion and lack of invest­ment in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor, are clear evi­dence in Portugal’s restruc­tur­ing of a vital indus­try. And olive oil pro­duc­tion has been at the fore­front of the chang­ing tide.


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