Every two years Montoro becomes the showcase for the olive growing sector at an international level, a recognition that has been earned with the effort and results obtained during the previous eighteen editions. This year it aims to highlight the economic importance of the olive sector, seek solutions to the difficult and complex problems of production and marketing of its products, and publicize the latest innovations in machinery, technological and scientific advances. Ana María Romero, president of the Spanish Association of Olive Tree Municipalities (AEMO) and of the Montoro Olive Fair Consortium, will present the latest news for this XIX edition.

– What does it mean for the Consortium to organize an event of this magnitude?

It is a great pride and responsibility because the Fair has become a recognized showcase of the dynamism and the productive and commercial capacity of the companies in the sector. It is also an opportunity to promote the visit to this event of professionals beyond our borders, so that they can attend this important commercial, promotional and debate event every year.

It is still an essential meeting point for manufacturers of crop machinery and oil mills to present their new products, of course, but it is also a meeting point for market players, buyers, producers and brokers, who find in their technical conferences a forum for reflection. It is also a meeting point for lovers of AOVE who will even be able to taste the best oils of the season this year. It is also an important event for the general public who, as consumers, can learn more about the sector and its different nuances.

– Which entities have shown their support for the Olive Fair?

The Olive Fair has the support of the Regional Government of Andalusia through the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Provincial Council of Cordoba, the Spanish Association of Olive Tree Municipalities, the financial institution Caja Rural de Jaén, the Fundación Patrimonio Comunal Olivarero, the Sierra Morena Development Group and the D.O. (Denomination of Origin). Montoro-Adamuz and all those who in different ways mobilize economic initiatives of social interest, promote trade contacts and exchanges and bring supply and demand closer together within the most important agricultural sector, the olive grower.

– What are your expectations after the recent rains? Do you think this will strengthen the participation of companies from the sector in the Fair?

We are looking forward to the preparations for the Fair with a positive attitude and therefore we have very good expectations for its celebration. It has been a very generous month of March in terms of rainfall in recent weeks and is something that is appreciated after the prolonged period of shortage that has been devastating during the olive harvest season this year. This makes the situation good for next year. It is normal that in view of this situation, businessmen from the sector want to participate more actively in the fair with the aim of getting to know the new machinery and establishing new marketing channels, including extra virgin olive oil.

– March 2018… It rains generously in Spain and this becomes a double-edged sword for the terrain. With no apparent explanation in the production sector, the price of oil collapses by more than 50 cents/kg in less than ten days. The 3 kg barrier is being crossed downwards by an extra virgin olive oil at source. A similar situation to the present one was repeated in 2012. What’s going on? What strategies could be considered to avoid the devaluation of the product?

First of all, it is a question of the industry’s own confidence in its product. If the world consumer has shown us that he or she is prepared to pay a decent price for olive oil, that it is not the sector itself that sells below cost, we must believe it and we must make liquid gold worthwhile.

That said, it is market law that when production is higher, the balance between supply and demand tends to lower the price of any good, and the whole sector, within the legal framework, should articulate self-regulation mechanisms between campaigns. Olive trees are neighbours by definition and we should therefore establish mechanisms to compensate for short seasons with surpluses from the more productive seasons. In this sense, we are going to dedicate the technical days of the Olive Fair to the rationalisation of costs and the self-regulation of the harvest to the future and stable profitability of the Spanish olive sector, and we will debate this.

– Activities during the XIX edition

This edition is characterized by the presence of foreign companies and entrepreneurs: we are working with an international focus, pursuing a significant projection beyond our borders and also, by retaining exhibitors from previous editions. However, the presence of exhibitors has always been of diverse origin, and in the last edition the exhibitors belonged to seven autonomous communities and six countries. We will continue to encourage the participation of companies that provide innovation and quality in their products.

There will also be activities of special interest such as guided tastings, tastings and competitions…. On the programming of parallel activities we have initiatives aimed at the dissemination of innovation and quality of the AOVE, together with research and dissemination of knowledge, in general, related to olive cultivation, olive oil production technology and Mediterranean gastronomy, and its contents cover practically the entire world of olive oil.

In addition, the best AOVEs in the world backed by the EVOOLEUM International Competition will once again be the protagonists of the 2nd Extra Virgin Show, one of the main novelties of the last edition of the fair, a space to which around 3,600 people came in 2016. This show will provide an innovative facet to the fair, as it will have the presence of top quality oils, which is why it is expected to be consolidated in this edition.

On the other hand, the theme of this edition is very interesting and very topical: “In search of a decent income for the olive grove: Reconversion and Self-Regulation“. The debate will focus on whether conversion is innovation or necessity and also on the vision of self-regulation from the point of view of the production, processing, marketing and administrative sectors.

– This year the Fair has a more international focus with Extenda, how will it be reflected?

Extenda – Andalusian Agency for Foreign Promotion, will organize a reverse mission of importers of auxiliary industry of agriculture in the framework of the Olive Fair of Montoro. This commercial mission is aimed mainly at companies in the olive grove ancillary industry sector. The aim is to inform a selection of operators (importers, distributors, wholesalers, prescribers) about the Andalusian offer in this sector and to identify business opportunities. The international meeting will consist of bilateral meetings between the invited operators and Andalusian companies.

Extenda will identify and invite international operators (importers, distributors, wholesalers, purchasing centres, manufacturers interested in complementing their lines, agents, representatives) from Algeria, Chile, Morocco, Peru, South Africa, Turkey and Tunisia, markets that present business opportunities for Andalusian companies. To this end, it will count on the collaboration of the Business Promotion Offices of Morocco and Chile, the Antennas of Peru, Turkey, Algeria and South Africa of the Extenda Foreign Network, as well as the Commercial Office of Spain in Tunisia.

– What message would you send to farmers, producers and the general public?

Don’t miss an event of this kind, located in a heritage and olive-growing municipality such as Montoro, the meeting point and headquarters of the entire olive-growing sector. The objective in Cordoba is clear: to bet in an excellent, dynamic and professional way to identify ourselves as a Quality Heritage Province. And the most emblematic product, the backbone of the Andalusian and Cordovan agri-food sector, is olive oil. It is a priority to encourage collaboration between the appellations of origin of Cordoba and not competition, defending each one of their singularities; to advance in production, quality and marketing; to promote internationalisation through joint collaboration projects, as well as to strengthen innovation in obtaining new products, production, marketing and marketing methods.

Therefore, let us value the fruit of the olive tree from where we produce it, let us ensure that it has a decent and sufficient price so that its cultivation can continue, and all of this requires a necessary strategy: Let’s produce quality, let’s bet on the extra virgin, which is the highest category, the one that truly treasures healthy and gastronomic values, let’s convince ourselves that it is a fruit juice and the rich and healthy juices have always been extracted by squeezing healthy fruits, Let’s press properly, let’s impose the culture of pressing, the culture of the 21st century, the one that treats olives as what they are… A fresh fruit.