Representatives of Spain’s struggling olive oil industry continue to look for new ways to boost profits, lower costs and compete in the world market.
This time, Clara Aguilera, Andalusia’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, has called for improvements in the industry’s foreign trade structures. Aguilera also emphasized the importance of listening to local farmers, as well as international experts.
In her opening remarks before the General Assembly of the Andalusian Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Enterprises (FAECA) in Granada Friday, Aguilera pointed out that “government intervention isn’t possible in this case because we are in a free market.” She nonetheless recognized the necessity of adopting measures to bolster the country’s olive oil sector by decreasing production costs and improving marketing abroad.
“Although we’ve improved substantially we still need to focus our efforts on the supply end,” Aguilera added. “We need to look outside of Spain because we’re witnessing growth of olive oil production in other Mediterranean countries that are going to compete with Andalusia.”
Regarding the reduction of costs and increase in efficiency, Aguilera emphasized the importance of cooperation among farmers to concentrate supply and consolidate marketing efforts. Furthermore, she mentioned technological innovation as an important factor in strengthening the industry. She added that only companies that demonstrate a clear commitment to the Andalusian government’s effort to increase supply concentrations would receive funding for innovation.
Aguilera also responded to the recent elimination of the Régimen Especial Agrario, a subsector of Spain’s social security system designed specifically for farmers. She acknowledged the tremendous weight that this decision will have on the agricultural sector. In Granada, the measure has affected some 58,000 people. Nonetheless her outlook on the future of Andalusia’s farmers is decidedly optimistic.
“The changes have been carried out well because they’ve been gradual and therefore not particularly burdensome for farmers.”