We spoke with Luis Rubio, sales and export manager of Palacio de los Olivos, about the fruits of so much effort.
Your oil has been named for the second consecutive year, as the No1 in the EVOO World Ranking, in Picual olive variety, it also has more than 20 prestigious international awards. What are the keys to achieving this distinction?
Getting this distinction year after year is not easy, considering that the picual variety is the most important in Spain (and therefore the world) and the variety par excellence of Andalusia, where there are excellent oils that compete for all these distinctions. The key is to try to maintain a level of excellence in all phases of production, from when the olive is in the field until the oil is packaged in the bottle. We have our own production, that is, all the olives come from our farm located a few metres from the oil mill, so we can have control of the whole olive grove, the olive production and the whole production process, and this circumstance helps us much to maintain this quality every year.
That a Spanish oil achieves this recognition raises the perception of quality of domestic production, what competence does our AOVE find in international markets?
We found as main competitors some Spanish oils that started their journey 5-10 years before us, in addition to some oils from Italy or Greece. Although the Spanish oils are at the top of the international rankings, Italy's oils around the world are still very good through consumer perceptions. There are excellent oils from Italy, at a level of quality very similar to ours and others from Spain, but it cannot be generalized that they are better than the Spaniards. It is necessary to continue to work outside Spain that has already been done for years, by the State agencies and the promotion of olive oil, in addition to activities to promote producers, aimed at reversing that image of Spanish oil as best oil in the world.
Are the new olive plantations in the world a threat or an opportunity to spread oil culture in general?
We think it is good that the consumption of olive oil is widespread all over the world and therefore, the fact that the increase in plantations is always going to be good for normalizing their consumption to the detriment of other less healthy vegetable fats such as oils soybeans, palm, canola, etc. Apart from this, there will always be a number of conditions that will favour a better quality of oil produced in Spain, such as the climate and terrain specific to our geography, in addition to a know-how acquired from many years.
How did you start your journey to export? How many years have you been exporting?
We started approximately 6 years ago, when with the achievement of the first international recognitions we began to have some demand for our product by some foreign importers. This, together with attendance at some events abroad and participation in some promotional actions outside Spain prompted us to focus our commercial activity abroad.
From this experience, what are the markets with the highest projection for a product like yours?
Olive oil is experiencing continuous progression in terms of per capita consumption in the world; therefore, those with a high demographic level and a high percentage of the population with medium-high purchasing power must be recognised as markets of interest. Countries such as the United States, Colombia, Mexico and Brazil in the Americas are very interesting, besides of course the Asian continent with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and of course China that still has little knowledgeable about this product- is a giant in terms of population level and speed in adapting Western customs making it undoubtedly one of the main target markets for us.
Going to the conquest of the Asian giant and the American continent, what part of the production do they propose for Europe?
Europe must not be neglected even though the trade volumes handled are much lower than before. Olive oil in most European countries is a common product as the Mediterranean Diet is highly established and therefore there is a wide demand. This also leads, above all for reasons of closeness, to greater competition between all Spanish, Italian and Greek producers and makes it difficult to access many markets.
We estimate approximately 20% the results of our efforts and investments on the European continent.
There is nothing more to say but to congratulate you on the successes and the great product they have. See you at Ibérica Expo London 2019.