14 Quality Management
The International Olive Council (IOC) published the following
definition of olive oil on their internet presence: “Virgin olive
oils are the oils obtained from the fruit of the olive tree (Olea
europaea L. ) solely by mechanical or other physical means
under conditions, particularly thermal conditions, that do not lead to
alterations in the oil, and which have not undergone any treatment
other than washing, decantation, centrifugation and filtration.”
Olive trees are cultivated in countries with a Mediterranean climate.
Spain accounts for the lion’s share of olive oil production. About 60%
of all oil is produced in Spain, followed by Morocco (6.2%), Turkey
(6.0%), Greece (5.8%) and Italy (5.4%) and other countries (figure 1).
In terms of consumption Spain takes with 17.7% the lead again, but
this time closely followed by Italy (13.7%), Saudi Arabia (13.0%), USA
(11.4%) and Turkey (5.6%). Data was obtained from the IOC homepage.
Depending on the specific character of the oil, the olives are harvested
between November and January, just before they are fully ripe.
Harvesting is done by hand or by tapping the trees. More modern
industrial olive growers also use machines to shake the olives off the
trees. After being transported to the oil mill, the olives are washed
thoroughly. Small leaves and branches are sorted out and then the
olives are completely cold pressed or cold extracted. For the extraction
centrifuges are used in which the olives are compressed into an
olive paste at high rotation speed. The temperature must be below
27°C during this process in order to preserve the ingredients as these
are important for properties like vitamin content, color, smell and, of
course, taste of the olive oil.
Figure 1: Top Ten of the world’s olive oil production in