“The olive sector is one of the 'crown jewels' of the Portuguese economy. It is a sector that, in the last 20 years, has modernised, invested in technology, innovation, knowledge, and significantly improved productivity”, highlighted the government official.

Speaking to the Lusa agency in Beja, after speaking at the end of the 10th edition of OLIVUM Talks, an event in which the evolution and future prospects of the olive sector were debated, the Minister of Economy stated that it was an area that “contributes significantly to national exports”.

“In 20 years, it managed to grow 12 times in terms of volume and 18 times in terms of value”, in terms of exports, he highlighted, alluding to the conclusions of a study that had previously been released at the meeting.

According to António Costa Silva, in 2022, “the entire agri-food industry contributed, in terms of exports, 7,300 million euros”.

The minister continued that it is “a sector that has also invested a lot, more than a billion euros per year, since 2017, and has a very high-quality product”, since “95 to 98% of the olive oil that the olive sector produces is virgin or extra virgin olive oil, therefore it is of maximum quality”.

“It is a sector that is beginning to gain progressive recognition at an international level and I think it has all the conditions to develop and transform into one of the great 'anchors' for the transformation of Portuguese agriculture and the Portuguese economy”, he argued.

Casa do Azeite told Lusa today that sales of packaged olive oil in Portugal fell by 1% between January and October, compared to the previous year, but the rise in prices caused exports to fall by 28% by September.

According to Casa do Azeite, this decline in exports could further increase “as price increases are passed along the value chain”.

Asked today by Lusa about the high price of olive oil on the market, the Minister of Economy acknowledged that “high prices are a concern”.

“But these high prices derive from the counter-harvest that occurred in almost the entire Mediterranean basin last year, the scarcity of raw materials and the increase in some demand”, he highlighted.

Therefore, Costa Silva said he is “convinced” that this will be “a periodic cycle”, from which will “recover quickly, because olive oil, among many other things, is beneficial for health” and “is increasingly recognised as a high-quality food.”

The initiative in Beja was promoted by Olivum, an association existing for 109 years and based in this Alentejo city, assuming itself as “the largest Portuguese association” in the sector, with 130 associated groups (corresponding to 300 farms) and 18 mills, in a total of more than 49 thousand hectares of agricultural exploration in the country.