Olive Oil from Portugal

The Olive Oils from Portugal

The olive tree has existed in Portugal since ancient times. It is an ancient culture. In Alentejo, considered the cradle of Portuguese olive groves, agricultural activity linked to the manufacture of olive oil is also very old. The use of olive oil in food, very common in the Mediterranean Basin, is also lost at night of the times.

For us, oil passed from Athens to Rome and from Rome it spread to Western Europe and the Iberian Peninsula. Mediterranean cuisine already used it since Greek antiquity.

Iberian Peninsula: ideal soils

Olive trees found the ideal soil and climate in the Iberian Peninsula. Today, Spain alone produces almost 80% of all olive oil in the European Union! No less than 70% of the world's production... And, together with Italy and Greece, 97% of the European Union's production. There is little left for the seven other world producers that are Morocco, Turkey and Tunisia. The seventh producer in the world is precisely Portugal, with just over 100,000 liters. According to the latest figures released, the record of the last campaign is expected to take this number to 120,000 L, but even so it should still lag behind of Tunisia.

Alentejo, a huge olive grove

In Portugal, the biggest olive groves are in Alentejo, which concentrates more than 50% of Portuguese olive groves - and more than 70% of olive oil production. In the immense Alentejo plain, the olive tree is a traditional tree, as well as the holm oak and the cork tree, another icon of Portugal and Alentejo (Portugal is the first cork producer and exporter in the world).

Guide to Olive Oil from Portugal
Olive Oil from Portugal © / Illustration

Azeites do Alentejo

DOP Olive Oils

The presence of the olive tree, a tree that stands out in the traditional Alentejo landscape, among the cork oaks and holm oaks, dates back to many centuries in the lands of Alentejo. In this regard, Alentejo is considered the cradle of olive oil in Portugal [4].

Seven DOP Olive Oils

The creation of Azeites DOP dates back to the 1990s in Portugal. There are 7 denominations of Protected Olive Oils, three are in Alentejo (Olive Oil from Moura PDO, Olive Oil from North Alentejo PDO and Olive Oil from Alentejo Interior PDO). Two in Beiras (DOP Beira Alta and DOP Beira Baixa). The others are DOP Trás-os-Montes and DOP Ribatejo. The municipality of Moura (469 producers, 14,701 ha, 1,753,600 liters produced), in Lower Alentejo, is the main producer in Portugal, followed by Trás-os-Montes, second in all: 419 producers, 3,586 ha, 684,498 liters produced.

Olive Oil in the Kitchen

Olive oil has always been used in food and considered an essential product in the kitchen, replacing butter as a source of fat in the preparation of the dishes.

Olive Oil and Gastronomy

In cooking and gastronomy, the use of olive oil has always been common in the Mediterranean and its eating habits. In Alentejo to eat olives is something quite common. The tradition of eating olives on bread after being seasoned essentially with salt and oregano is very old.

Olive Oil and Literature

It has always been written about oil. In Portugal, the great writer Alexandre Herculano, who passed from the world of literature and science for the world of olive oil, at his Quinta Vale de Lobos, in Santarém, he inspired another writer, Jorge Custódio, author of the work O Lagar ea olive oil Herculaneum. And many others, like Edgardo Pacheco, author of the book "Os 100 Melhores Azeites de Portugal".

Production and Distribution

If there are many olive oil producers in Portugal, the fact is that both production and distribution are concentrated in a few large companies, which are Victor Guedes (Gallo), from Abrantes, Santarém, in Ribatejo, and Oliveira da Serra, from Ferreira do Alentejo, in Alentejo, Sovena (Oeiras) and CAMB (Agricultural Cooperative of Moura Barrancos), from Moura, Alentejo. The first two control 60-65% of the consumer market in Portugal [2].

Traditional olive groves

The olive trees that form the traditional olive groves are used in the production of the famous and tasty Alentejo oils. There are four varieties of olives grown in Alentejo: Galega, Cobrançosa, Cordovil de Serpa and Verdeal Alentejana.

Intensive olive groves

In addition to the vast traditional olive groves, new plantations have emerged, seeking greater productivity per hectare: intensive olive groves (285 to 415 trees per hectare) and the super-intensive olive groves (900 to 1200 trees per hectare) [4].

Portugal 4th World Exporter

Portugal is the seventh producer in the world and the fourth producer in the European Union (behind Spain 78%), Italy and Greece, which together produce 97% of Europe's total - and 75% of world production). Portugal is the fourth largest exporter of olive oil in the world, with Brazil being its main customer. Another important fact: olive oil is Portugal's main product exported to Brazil.

Worldwide, with production of around 100 thousand tons, Portugal is still behind Morocco (200 thousand tons), Turkey (183 thousand tons) and Tunisia (120 thousand tons) .

Alentejo produces 70% of the olive oil in Portugal

In Portugal, olive groves cover an area of ​​340,000 ha, being the fourth largest in the European Union. Alentejo alone produces 70% of the oil Portuguese, ahead of the North and the Centre. In Alentejo, olive groves occupy 9% of agricultural land. However, at the national level, 50% of the Portuguese olive groves are found in Alentejo, 20% in the North and 18% in the Center of the country.

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