`Olive Oil 'Tortas' a Sevillian Export Success - Olive Oil Times

Olive Oil 'Tortas' a Sevillian Export Success

Sep. 28, 2012
Julie Butler

Recent News

Extra vir­gin olive oil is the only preser­v­a­tive in — and forms a quar­ter of — Spain’s widely exported pas­try Torta de Aceite de Castilleja de la Cuesta.

These olive oil tor­tas — some call them bis­cuits, sweet flat­breads or wafers — have gone from a home-made pas­try eaten in Seville at Easter to sales of about 130 mil­lion units a year and across five con­ti­nents by the Ines Rosales com­pany alone.

There are now var­i­ous ver­sions on the mar­ket but the story goes that the tra­di­tional ones made by Ines Rosales derive from the woman of the same name, who in the vil­lage of Castilleja de la Cuesta in the early 1900s took an old fam­ily recipe and, with the help of local women, started sell­ing the tor­tas at a train sta­tion and major cross­roads.

The recipe is said to remain much the same and — apart from being 27.7 per­cent EVOO — the ingre­di­ents include flour, sugar, yeast, sesame, aniseed, and anise essence.

Today, a 180g (6.3oz) packet of six sells in Spanish depart­ment store El Corte Inglés for €1.40 € ($1.80) and, accord­ing to Ines Rosales export man­ager Antonio Boza, retails for about $4.99 in the US, £2.99 in England and €2.50-€3.00 in Germany and France.

Advertisement

An appli­ca­tion is cur­rently before the European Commission to list Tortas de Aceite de Castilleja de la Cuesta’ as one of Europe’s tra­di­tional spe­cial­i­ties guar­an­teed” (TSG) prod­ucts, part of a scheme to pro­mote and pro­tect the names of qual­ity agri­cul­tural prod­ucts.

From Seville, Ines Rosales export man­ager Antonio Boza spoke to Olive Oil Times about the EVOO used in the prod­uct and why the TSG recog­ni­tion is sought.

What kind of EVOO do you use in the tor­tas?

The most impor­tant thing is to main­tain con­sis­tency in the qual­i­ties of the prod­uct over time. Because we seek a bal­ance between prod­uct sta­bil­ity and the fla­vor expected by our con­sumers, we use a mix of olive oil vari­eties to achieve that.

Our EVOO must be fairly mild-tast­ing and have con­sid­er­able oxida­tive sta­bil­ity as it is the only preser­v­a­tive in our tor­tas and forms nearly a quar­ter of the final prod­uct.

Each mas­ter miller knows which of their EVOOs would meet our needs and often olive oil mills have to find sev­eral vari­eties in order to meet our spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

Every 20 days we repeat the pur­chase process and each batch is sub­mit­ted to a pro­to­col includ­ing send­ing of a sam­ple, a panel test, and other ver­i­fi­ca­tion that stan­dards are met, includ­ing our require­ment that the oil not be spicy or bit­ter.

You have to ana­lyze every tan­kload because you can’t assume that a sting in the throat or bright green color guar­an­tees qual­ity.

How are your tor­tas eaten?

Their tra­di­tional con­sump­tion in Spain was with cof­fee or tea for break­fast, as a snack any­time, or with a dessert such as crema cata­lana. But inter­est­ingly our export mar­kets are teach­ing us new ways of using them. They are much more ver­sa­tile than we had real­ized!

Some peo­ple now com­bine the sweet tor­tas with ice cream or yogurt, or with a for­ti­fied wine for dessert, or as the base for canapés with cheeses and mar­malades.

The savory ones are used as an accom­pa­ni­ment to cheeses, pâté, and smoked goods, or as an appe­tizer with a beer, wine or gin and tonic.

Why did the Ines Rosales com­pany apply to reg­is­terTortas de Aceite de Castilleja de la Cuesta’ as a tra­di­tional spe­cialty in Europe?

We see it as recog­ni­tion of the unique qual­ity and ori­gin of a prod­uct that this com­pany pio­neered and is the lead­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive of nation­ally and inter­na­tion­ally.

It’s also an asset for mar­ket­ing and pro­vides recog­ni­tion for com­pa­nies that make prod­ucts accord­ing to tra­di­tional, hand-made meth­ods, and with extra vir­gin olive oil, dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing us from those mak­ing a lower qual­ity prod­uct that does not meet the EU stan­dards.

There’s a big vari­ety of prod­ucts under the umbrella of Torta de Aceite’ that are all very dif­fer­ent and this makes it hard for con­sumers to dis­tin­guish between them, espe­cially when bought out­side their area of ori­gin.

Castilleja de la Cuesta is the orig­i­nal vil­lage which used a dis­tinct pro­duc­tion method and fur­ther­more its tor­tas de aceite are the ones that have had the biggest global reach.

It will be another mark of dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion for us and there­fore help in mar­ket­ing, and no doubt we’ll be the first to hold that dis­tinc­tion.

For those who have yet to try it, the dis­tinc­tion might encour­age them to do so by cer­ti­fy­ing the authen­tic­ity of its ori­gin, tra­di­tional pro­duc­tion method and use of nat­ural ingre­di­ents.

A scan of the inter­net sug­gests tourists often buy these tor­tas in Spain then try to track them down again in their home coun­try. How much of your out­put goes abroad?

We export 20 per­cent of our pro­duc­tion and our main export mar­ket is the USA but we have a pres­ence on five con­ti­nents thanks to exports to Canada, Mexico, the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China and the United Arab Emirates.



Olive Oil Times Video Series
Advertisement

Related Articles

Feedback / Suggestions