People Here Use More Olive Oil than Anywhere Else in The World

Sammarinese consume an average of 22 kilograms of olive oil each year, or about a liter every two weeks.

Aug. 12, 2021
By Paolo DeAndreis

Recent News

A new report shows that San Marino is the world’s lead­ing per capita olive oil-con­sum­ing nation.

Stretching over 61-square-kilo­me­ter, the moun­tain­ous microstate is one of the most ancient republics in the world and is known for its per­fectly pre­served medieval archi­tec­ture.

Olive oil and the olive tree itself are deeply loved by Sammarinese fam­i­lies.- Flavio Benedettini, pres­i­dent of the olive grow­ers’ coop­er­a­tive in San Marino

The inhab­i­tants of the small coun­try, which is located on the north­east­ern flank of the Apennine Mountains and is com­pletely sur­rounded by Italy, con­sume an aver­age of 22 kilo­grams (approx­i­mately 24 liters) annu­ally

That equates to around one liter every two weeks per per­son.

By com­par­i­son, annual per capita olive oil con­sump­tion in Greece sits at 12 kilo­grams and is 11.7 kilo­grams in Spain. Meanwhile, the fig­ure reaches 8.2 kilo­grams in Italy and 7.9 kilo­grams in Portugal.

See Also: Olive Oil Consumption Holds Steady as Production Slips, Latest Data Shows

Overall, the report from Juan Vilar Strategic Consultants said 92 per­cent of olive oil con­sump­tion takes place in the 67 coun­tries in which olive oil is pro­duced. From there, pro­duc­ers export their olive oil to a fur­ther 131 coun­tries.

San Marino is a coun­try that shares with Italy the advan­tage of olive oil as a main sea­son­ing and dress­ing,” Luigi Sartini, a chef at the renowned Ristorante Righi in San Marino and a Michelin-star holder since 2008, told Olive Oil Times. Here, olive oil is the fat most widely used and the condi­ment that char­ac­ter­izes most of our cook­ing.”

Sartini was not sur­prised that San Marino leads the world in per capita olive oil con­sump­tion.

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San Marino

It is the heart of our tra­di­tion,” he said. Almost all of my recipes end up with an extra vir­gin olive oil fin­ish­ing. Just like many other chefs in the area, I am an enthu­si­as­tic adopter and admirer of olive oil.”

Sartini added that empha­siz­ing that San Marino also has a rich olive oil cul­ture, which may also be attrib­uted to the high lev­els of con­sump­tion.

For instance, if you want to give a rel­e­vant present to some­one here, you will choose a fine extra vir­gin olive oil,” he said.

Along with indi­vid­ual con­sump­tion, Sartini said that many insti­tu­tions in the coun­try also use local extra vir­gin olive oil as a sta­ple.

If you think of any pub­lic soup kitchen, as well as in the hos­pi­tals or schools cafe­te­ria, where health is a pri­or­ity, extra vir­gin olive oil is always the basic ingre­di­ent shared by any kind of diet reg­i­men,” he said.

Sartini praised local farm­ers for hav­ing expanded olive grow­ing within the coun­try in the last few decades, which has lead to the cre­ation of the dis­tinc­tive Terra di San Marino extra vir­gin olive oil.

It is a high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil,” Sartini said. It comes from sev­eral dif­fer­ent cul­ti­vars and is char­ac­ter­ized by a very robust taste with an herba­ceous fla­vor and a piquant note. It is an ideal extra vir­gin olive oil for the tra­di­tional San Marino cui­sine, strong and sturdy like the nature of its cit­i­zens.”

Terra di San Marino oils are cer­ti­fied by the local con­sor­tium and can be pro­duced only by reg­is­tered farm­ers whose olive groves grow within the coun­try’s bound­aries. Its fla­vor and taste mainly come from blend­ing Correggiolo, Sursina, Capolga, Brugnola, Pendolino, Frantoio and Leccino olives.

Olive oil and the olive tree itself are deeply loved by Sammarinese fam­i­lies,” Flavio Benedettini, the pres­i­dent of the olive grow­ers’ coop­er­a­tive in San Marino, told Olive Oil Times.

In a small ter­ri­tory whose olive trees do not have access to irri­ga­tion, whose cold win­ters can reach icy tem­per­a­tures and rain­fall might come short, grow­ing and plant­ing olive trees is a fam­ily and tra­di­tional expe­ri­ence cher­ished by many,” he added.

Benedettini was pleas­antly sur­prised by the con­sump­tion fig­ures cited by the Juan Vilar Strategic Consultants report.

Those num­bers are impres­sive. As olive grow­ers, I believe that means we are doing a good job,” he said, explain­ing how olive oil is part of the national iden­tity and is even taught in the schools.

Pupils from all classes are taught how to taste extra vir­gin olive oil, and they rou­tinely come to our oil mill for tast­ing lessons,” Benedettini said.

Last year, Terra di San Marino-cer­ti­fied extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duc­tion reached 7,000 quin­tals (770 tons).

The prod­uct is sold well before the olives are har­vested,” Benedettini said. Customers reserve their olive oil months ahead because they know the pro­duc­tion is lim­ited and every year the yield is dif­fer­ent.”

Olive grow­ing does not ensure a high income to our farm­ers, but it is prob­a­bly cher­ished by them more than wine,” he added. Still, many plant new olive trees, which shows how rel­e­vant the olive is for us.”

All San Marino cit­i­zens have taken part in the har­vest at some point, and as an oil mill oper­a­tor, I can tell that here noth­ing like olive oil sparks social exchanges between fam­i­lies and grow­ers,” Benedettini con­cluded.


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