Nuestra Señora del Pilar is the world’s largest olive oil mill and it celebrated the opening of its newly outfitted plant in the town of Villacarrillo on 12 October. The mill is owned by the Cooperative FAECA (Federación Andaluza de Empresas Cooperativas Agrarias) made up of 1,673 members and is in Andalusia’s Jaén Province, where some 70 percent of Spain’s olive oil is produced.
The Italian company Gruppo Pieralisi, world leader in olive oil extraction equipment, outfitted the 28 million euro plant. Gennaro Pieralisi, CEO of the Gruppo Pieralisi, was at the ribbon cutting ceremony, which was attended by 3,000 people.
The mill is capable of processing 2,500 tons or 2,500,000 kilos of olives per day. The Pieralisi system includes 12 lines that can work round the clock. The Italian company says that the new system allows for the extraction of more than 99 percent of the available oil, and that the environmental impact is contained since the extraction process does not use, and therefore does not produce vegetative waters. The plant has 18 receiving lines for the olives, 16 lines for washing the fruit, 72 hoppers, and 156 tanks capable of storing 17,000 tons of olive oil.
The Cooperative was formed in 1966 and since its founding, over one million tons of olive oil have been produced. Members farm close to 14,000 hectares (34,500 acres), with over 1,500,000 trees, which are mostly of the Picual variety.