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.

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.

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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