Europe

In Montoro, a Focus on Finance, Quality and Tourism

The picturesque town of Montoro celebrated the 18th Olive Fair.

Montoro, Andalusia, Spain
May. 18, 2016
By Alexis Kerner
Montoro, Andalusia, Spain

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A half hour drive north­east of the Andalusian city of Córdoba will take you to the pic­turesque town of Montoro. The town is not only home to the Montoro-Adamuz PDO, with its 47,000 acres of olive groves and 8 mills, Montoro also hosts a pop­u­lar bi-annual Olive Fair where, on May 11, the 18th edi­tion of the event was held at the Olive Community Heritage Foundation’s Olive Oil Complex.

“The Montoro Olive Fair is get­ting better each year it is cel­e­brated,” said Victor Pérez from Finca la Torre, the winner of four Gold Awards at this year’s New York International Olive Oil Competition. “Years ago the fair pri­mar­ily pre­sented farm and milling equip­ment and now I see evi­dence of a shift to the impor­tance of high-qual­ity olive oil,” he told Olive Oil Times

This year there were 120 stands on the fair­grounds, a con­fer­ence hall with key speak­ers and a tast­ing room with at least 80 award-win­ning extra virgin olive oils. Although the major­ity of the olive oils were from Spain, there were some from Italy, Portugal, Morocco, Israel and Greece.

On Thursday, speak­ers focused on the impor­tance of eco­nom­ics, qual­ity, and the role of tourism. The mayor of Montoro and the pres­i­dent of AEMO (the Spanish Association of Olive Growing Municipalities), Ana María Romero spoke on the impor­tance of oleo-tourism on the econ­omy, the hard work that is needed to build a better future, and the inno­va­tions that could be seen at the fair.

Ammar Assabah, deputy direc­tor, and Maria Isabel Gomez, head of the sta­tis­tics for the International Olive Council (IOC) also spoke.

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Assabah briefed the audi­ence on the objec­tives of the new International Agreement on Olive Oil and Table Olives and went on to explain three main roles of the IOC: to bring IOC mem­bers closer together, expand activ­i­ties to con­sumer coun­tries, and to sim­plify pro­ce­dures.

Gomez walked the par­tic­i­pants through a series of slides that showed sta­tis­ti­cal data on imports, exports and con­sump­tion. Gomez pointed out that although there is an increase in global olive oil con­sump­tion, there has been a decrease in European con­sump­tion which she attrib­uted to the eco­nomic crisis.

Juan Vilar (GEA Iberia) and José María Penco (AEMO) were next on the line-up, pre­sent­ing the International Study on Olive Oil Production Costs. The study, car­ried out between their enti­ties and the IOC, demon­strated across 14 coun­tries the cost of pro­duc­ing one kg of virgin olive by using 7 dif­fer­ent olive cul­ti­va­tion meth­ods.

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The results of the study show the most prof­itable cul­ti­va­tion sys­tems as well as those coun­tries with the lowest pro­duc­tion costs. Their rec­om­men­da­tions included: the con­ver­sion of tra­di­tional sys­tems into more mech­a­nized, inten­sive sys­tems; greater coop­er­a­tion between pro­duc­ers; taking advan­tage of by-prod­ucts; and the impor­tance of train­ing and knowl­edge trans­fer.

Public fig­ures, from regional and national bodies were also present. Carlos Sánchez Laín from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment explained that the sector must not forget all that it has achieved. During his pre­sen­ta­tion, Sánchez stressed the impor­tance of prod­uct excel­lence, the hard work that the Inter-Professional Organization of Spanish Olive Oil is car­ry­ing out, and the need to create a market to pro­mote Spanish olive oils.

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Soledad Serrano from QvExtra explained the sig­nif­i­cance of not just cre­at­ing a prod­uct of excel­lence but also one that pro­vides health ben­e­fits and a unique gas­tro­nomic expe­ri­ence. She also stressed that 80 per­cent of con­sumers do not know what qual­ity is and the use of a seal like QvExtra can help to iden­tify out­stand­ing EVOOs.

Finca la Torre’s Pérez walked the audi­ence through his per­sonal jour­ney to achiev­ing one of the best olive oils in the world. Víctor and his team began by chang­ing the entire phi­los­o­phy of pro­duc­tion. He scrapped the old ways of farm­ing, har­vest­ing and milling in favor of modern and eco­log­i­cal prac­tices. He also tossed the old image, designed a new bottle and upgraded the logo. Then he wel­comed vis­i­tors to come see his oper­a­tion, cre­at­ing trans­parency in all that Finca la Torre does.

Oleo-tourism was dis­cussed last by José Gálvez — whose Oro Bailen has won Gold at the NYIOOC in four con­sec­u­tive years — and Yolanda Caballero (Jaén City Council). Gálvez agreed with Pérez that tourism is an impor­tant way to trans­mit trans­parency. His family at Oro Bailen has put together an audio-visual dis­play for vis­i­tors that come on the off-season when olive oil is not being made. They also give tast­ings and have a beau­ti­ful store.

Caballero explained that oleo-tourism is a way to make “a second har­vest” from olive oil pro­duc­tion. She detailed all of the work Jaén has done in recent years to develop the Oleo Tour Jaén. They found they had all of the ingre­di­ents (mills, gas­tron­omy, rural accom­mo­da­tions, town fairs, muse­ums) to create a unique tourism expe­ri­ence. Since they have started, it has been noth­ing but a suc­cess, she said.

On Friday, the AEMO handed out prizes for the Diffusion of Olive Culture, Best Mill, Best Master Miller, and Best Monumental Olive.

The PDO of Priego de Córdoba was awarded the top prize for dif­fu­sion of olive cul­ture for their project “Healthy Breakfasts.” The second prize in this cat­e­gory was given to Oro Bailen for their work in oleo-tourism. Third prize was pre­sented to Felipe Augusto Agudo for his Website, “La Moltura, Community of the Oleo-Aficionados.” Carmen Sánchez was given spe­cial recog­ni­tion for her work in Germany.

The Best Mill was given to Agrícola de Bailén-Virgen de Zocueca S.C.A., who pro­duce the brand Picualia. Best Master Miller was awarded to Juan María Cano González from the Córdoba pro­ducer Oleum Hispania. Finally, Best Monumental Olive was pre­sented to The Olive with Four Feet known in Spanish as ‘Olivo de las cuatro patas’ from the vil­lage of Canet Lo Roig in Castellón.

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