AltUse Find - About Olive Oil


Over 750 million olive trees are cultivated worldwide, 95% of which are in the Mediterranean region. Most of global production comes from Southern Europe, North Africa and the Near East.
World olive oil production in 2006-2007 was 2.767 million tonnes,[1] of which Spain contributed 40% to 45%. Of the European production, 93% comes from SpainItalyPortugal and Greece.
Greece devotes 60% of its cultivated land to olive growing. It is the world's top producer of black olives and has more varieties of olives than any other country. Greece holds third place in world olive production with more than 132 million trees, which produce approximately 350,000 tons of olive oil annually, of which 82% is extra-virgin[2] (see below for an explanation of terms). About half of the annual Greek olive oil production is exported, but only some 5% of this reflects the origin of the bottled product[citation needed]. Greece exports mainly toEuropean Union (EU) countries, principally Italy, which receives about three-quarters of total exports. Olives are grown for oil in Greece, withPeloponnese being the source of 65% of Greek production, as well as in Crete, the Aegean Islands and Ionian Islands. The most prized Greek olive variety for oil production is the Korōnéiki, originating from the area of Korōnē in Messenia. This variety grows well on mountain slopes and produces very small fruit; the high ratio of skin to flesh giving the oil its coveted aromatic qualities. The variety is also suited to the production of agourélaio, oil from olives that are slightly unripe. When crushed in presses that are not capable of grinding the stone, this oil is entirely free of acidity and possesses top-tier organoleptic characteristics. Because not crushing the stones reduces oil yield, production of agourélaio is limited to "boutique" presses run by entrepreneurs and small cooperatives.
Among the many different olive varieties or cultivars in Italy are Frantoio, Leccino Pendolino, and Moraiolo; in Spain the most important varieties are the Picual, Arbequina, Hojiblanca, and Manzanilla de Jaén; in Greece, Koroneiki; in France, Picholine; in California, Mission; in Portugal, Galega; in Croatia, Oblica and Leccino. The oil from the varieties varies in flavour and stability (shelf life).
Australia now produces much olive oil. Many Australian producers only make premium oils, whilst a number of corporate growers operate groves of a million trees or more and produce oils for the general market. Australian olive oil is exported to Asia and Europe.
In North America, Italian and Spanish olive oils are the best-known, and top-quality extra-virgin oils from Italy, Spain, and Greece are sold at high prices, often in "prestige" packaging. A large part of U.S. olive oil imports come from Italy, Spain, and Turkey. The U.S. imported 47,800,000 US gallons (181,000 m3) of olive oil in 1998, of which 34,600,000 US gallons (131,000 m3) came from Italy.[3]
The Republic of South Africa also produces extra virgin olive oil, with production increasing to meet demand.