Despite budget cuts and the current poor financial climate, Spanish olive oil production in the Baena region of Córdoba has reached record-breaking levels with its last harvest. The Denomination of Origin Baena reported collection of 270 million kilograms of olives and over 57 million kilos of oil, which represents a record harvest for the quality label.

After a meeting of the regulatory council for the Denomination of Origin (D.O.) last week, president Francisco Núñez de Prado reported that 250 denomination samples have been submitted for official tasting, representing 12 million kilos. This comes after the introduction of an integrated control system by the D.O Baena to assure identification of bulk oils and to facilitate the price and value of oils sold in bulk under the denomination label.

The past year has seen budget cuts for promotion and advertising of products under the D.O Baena label, with a 22 percent drop from180,000 Euros to 140,000. However, it is hoped that the decision made last year by the regulatory council to form an inter-professional organization of olive oil to represent the extra virgin olive oil certified with the quality Baena denomination will help with continuing promotion of olive oil.

The formation of the organization has been supported wholeheartedly by the various municipalities of the area, with all councils pledging their support in a meeting last week. Núñez de Prado explained that the main objective of this organization was to promote olive oil and expand markets. It is hoped that this supportive network will strengthen and increase the presence of D.O Baena olive oil in existing markets, as well as aid the expansion to new markets.

It is hoped the organization will improve the framework of the industry and increase olive oil consumption and knowledge through continuous adaptation of products to suit consumer demands, carrying out promotional campaigns for the improvement of olive grove conditions and promoting sustainable development in the agricultural food industry.

Núñez de Prado said that Spain was the primary producer and exporter of olive oil in the world, producing oil in such quantities that it was impossible to consume within Spain. Hence it is essential that money is invested in continuing promotion and marketing of the product both throughout Spain and internationally.

The production area for extra virgin olive oils with the D.O. Baena label is situated in the south east of Córdoba and includes oils from a number of varieties of olives including Picudo (considered to be the main variety for the D.O), Hojiblance, Picual, Lechín, Chorrúa, Jardúa and Pajarero. The oils from this region are known for their high levels of linoleic acids.

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