What is the role of olive oil and its sector in Castilla-La Mancha?
Olive oil is an essential product, not only by its relevance in the Mediterranean diet but mostly because it is a product that is prepared in Castilla-La Mancha by more than 300 companies, public and private mills and co-ops distributed all along the territory, transforming the olives of more than 80,000 landlords. It is a crop with a huge social basis that brings lots of economic value and has an immense impact on the territory because we have olive trees all ver our region.That makes us the second Autonomous Community of Spain with the largest olive oil production area.
There are also some quality certificates that boost the crop and its relationship with the territory. What is being made to foster these initiatives?
We have four DOPs. The most recognized one is Montes de Toledo, that encompasses the cornicabra variant, which is the most recognized in the Castilla-La Mancha area. We have another 3 DOPs that are also worthy of a mention: Campo de Montiel, Campo de Calatrava and La Alcarria. We promote these four DOPs in a specific way, at our rural development program to make discussed olive oil tastings, promote them on selling points... We work with these DOPs from the Castilla-La Mancha Government's brand, Campo y Alma.
Campo y Alma represents every single one of our quality figures. That exquisite ol serves as a Castilla-La Mancha introduction card on the alimentary distribution and in restauration, where we are increasingly present so that consumers are starting to recognize the products of these Extra Virgin Olive Oil DOPs more frequently.
Internationalization is a key element for this product. How do you think Castilla-La Mancha's producers can benefit from the Olive Oil World Congress?
I think the Olive Oil World Congress is highly important. It is a great initiative that can help anyone: olive growers and, obviously, the mills that sell the product. We need to make a qualitative jump in defending our extra virgin olive oil globally and sell it bottled wit a DOP and a tag that explains its origin, the variety you're consuming and, if it is possible, that should be made from our country, but more specifically from Castilla-La Mancha. There is still a lot to be made in the international market commercialization, with our own brand and the reference to its origins, so I think the Olive Oil World Congress will help transferring the greates gift of Castilla-La Mancha.
The olive campaign has been very strange all along the territory. How has it been in Castilla-La Mancha?
The campaign has been quite special. We were anticipating a very small crop in Castilla-La Mancha. Mid-campaign, we were anticipating a larger production but, eventually, and mostly because of the latest precipitations of January, we will be having a smaller crop than we had thought. It will be around 80,000 tones maximum in Castilla-La Mancha, which is approximately a 20% less than the average production of the latest campaigns. We are the second region in production, with a big distance from the first one, Andalucía, be we have kept on growing during the past few years.
Our production has expanded because our land has as well. We have around 450,000 hectares of olive trees in Castilla-La Mancha, which implies that our grow is steady. This campaign had a low production, but the olives entered the mill well and I dare to say that the oil will be of excellent quality.
What does Castilla-La Mancha expect from the Olive Oil World Congress?
That it serves to promote olive oil to get people to speak about a product that is a pillar of the Mediterranean diet, which is also a pillar of our economy and is, as well, part of our idiosyncrasy, of our society and our people, especially from Castilla-La Mancha, where we are really close to olive trees. Olive trees promote a very social crop, as I said before, there are more than 80,000 landlords in a region with more than 2 million habitants, which means a lot, and it is always necessary to support a product that is as personal to us as olive oil. I think that the congress will achieve this, undoubtfully, because it is an excellent initiative that will always be backed up by Castilla-La Mancha.