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Four-Year Project to Establish Foundation for Galician Olive Oil Sector

By 2021 Galicia expects to complete a four-year R&D project that seeks to establish solid foundations for a Galician olive oil industry based on indigenous olive varieties.

Galiciaā€™s Biological Mission
Jun. 14, 2018
By Rosa Gonzalez-Lamas
Galiciaā€™s Biological Mission

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By 2021 Galicia expects to comĀ­plete a four-year R&D project that seeks to estabĀ­lish solid founĀ­daĀ­tions for a Galician olive oil indusĀ­try based on indigeĀ­nous olive variĀ­eties.

ā€œCharacterization and Recovery of Indigenous Olive Varieties from Galiciaā€ is the first major sciĀ­enĀ­tific project devoted to Galician olives and began in 2017 with the aims of recovĀ­erĀ­ing indigeĀ­nous olive trees, idenĀ­tiĀ­fyĀ­ing Galician olive variĀ­eties, underĀ­takĀ­ing a small-scale proĀ­ducĀ­tion of their olive oils to anaĀ­lyze their qualĀ­iĀ­ties, and expandĀ­ing their proĀ­ducĀ­tion to idenĀ­tify those variĀ­eties with best busiĀ­ness potenĀ­tial.

The Viticulture Group of Galiciaā€™s Biological Mission, a cenĀ­ter of the Spanish National Research Council, leads this research sponĀ­sored by Juana de Vega Foundation and supĀ­ported by APAG, Galiciaā€™s Association of Olive and Oil Producers.

The Group is responĀ­siĀ­ble for activĀ­iĀ­ties in sciĀ­enĀ­tific and techĀ­noĀ­logĀ­iĀ­cal aspects of vitiĀ­culĀ­ture and, since 2012, Galician oliviĀ­culĀ­ture.

Its iniĀ­tial invesĀ­tiĀ­gaĀ­tions conĀ­firmed the exisĀ­tence of two indigeĀ­nous olive variĀ­eties, Brava Gallega and Mansa Gallega, which in 2017 were recĀ­ogĀ­nized and incorĀ­poĀ­rated into Spainā€™s Registry of Olive Varieties with a Commercial Interest and, conĀ­seĀ­quently, the EU Plant Variety Catalogues and Database. This enabled their plantĀ­ing, olive and oil proĀ­ducĀ­tion, and indiĀ­caĀ­tion on prodĀ­uct labels.

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ā€œWe described their DNA proĀ­files and feaĀ­tures accordĀ­ing to the existĀ­ing UPOV code for Olea euroĀ­pea and have some data about their organolepĀ­tic traits and the analyĀ­sis of their oils but need long-term assessĀ­ments of the olive trees and the influĀ­ence of annual weather to make rigĀ­orĀ­ous and reliĀ­able conĀ­cluĀ­sions about the pecuĀ­liarĀ­iĀ­ties of each olive variĀ­ety,ā€ said MarĆ­a del Carmen MartĆ­nez, the groupā€™s chief.

In 2018 the Mission reported the findĀ­ings of the projectā€™s first phase when 116 cenĀ­teĀ­nary olive trees were idenĀ­tiĀ­fied and marked. Thirteen difĀ­ferĀ­ent and unknown olive variĀ­eties were found after anaĀ­lyzĀ­ing DNA and botanĀ­iĀ­cal descripĀ­tions of 70 of these trees.

Except for Brava and Mansa Gallega and Portuguese CobrancoƧa, the remainĀ­ing variĀ­eties need to be named. The plan now moves forĀ­ward to stages that seek to expand and comĀ­plete the recovĀ­ery of indigeĀ­nous olive tree variĀ­eties, and the charĀ­acĀ­terĀ­iĀ­zaĀ­tion of oils proĀ­duced from their olives.

Upon comĀ­pletĀ­ing the project, the Viticulture Group expects to proĀ­vide the Galician and Spanish govĀ­ernĀ­ments with data required to regĀ­isĀ­ter new olive variĀ­eties as indigeĀ­nous from Galicia and globĀ­ally disĀ­tinct. It then plans to offer proĀ­ducĀ­ers and nursĀ­eries mateĀ­rĀ­ial that may help expand the olive oil and table olive indusĀ­tries using indigeĀ­nous Galician olive variĀ­eties.

The Groupā€™s prior expeĀ­riĀ­ence with the iniĀ­tial stages of a Galician wine indusĀ­try based on local grape variĀ­eties, and the many simĀ­iĀ­larĀ­iĀ­ties between olives and vines, serve as a refĀ­erĀ­ence for the develĀ­opĀ­ment of what appears to be a promisĀ­sory regional olive oil indusĀ­try.

Although Galicia is known for its wine proĀ­ducĀ­tion, cenĀ­teĀ­nary olive trees located throughĀ­out Ribeira Sacra, Valdeorras and the province of Pontevedra attest an ancient olive oil proĀ­ducĀ­tion. Many trees were removed cenĀ­turies ago and comĀ­merĀ­cial oil proĀ­ducĀ­tion was abanĀ­doned, but domesĀ­tic proĀ­ducĀ­tion never ceased. In recent years some comĀ­paĀ­nies and winerĀ­ies resumed this proĀ­ducĀ­tion with a comĀ­merĀ­cial tarĀ­get.

Approximately 300ā€Æhectares of olive trees are curĀ­rently planted in Galicia, 130 of which, or 40 perĀ­cent, belong to APAG memĀ­bers. ā€‹ā€œThe Association is ready to proĀ­vide advice to the increasĀ­ing numĀ­ber of perĀ­sons interĀ­ested in plantĀ­ing olive trees, espeĀ­cially from indigeĀ­nous variĀ­eties,ā€ noted APAGā€™s presĀ­iĀ­dent, JosĆ© Antonio GarcĆ­a MartĆ­nez. Many comĀ­paĀ­nies, espeĀ­cially forĀ­eign, are interĀ­ested in investĀ­ing in Galiciaā€™s olive secĀ­tor, he noted.

Among the curĀ­rent operĀ­aĀ­tors in Galicia, four employ indigeĀ­nous olive variĀ­eties grown in Galicia; five proĀ­ducĀ­ers make oils from non-indigeĀ­nous olives grown in Galicia.

According to GarcĆ­a, APAG proĀ­ducĀ­ers are focusĀ­ing on craftĀ­ing preĀ­mium olive oils, payĀ­ing the utmost attenĀ­tion to all stages involved in proĀ­ducĀ­tion to ensure the gourmet staĀ­tus of their prodĀ­uct.

APAG perĀ­ceives the Biological Missionā€™s research can have a posĀ­iĀ­tive impact on the expanĀ­sion of Galiciaā€™s olive secĀ­tor and the recogĀ­niĀ­tion of the uniqueĀ­ness of its indigeĀ­nous olive oils. The Associationā€™s aspiĀ­raĀ­tion is that these efforts may help conĀ­stiĀ­tute a desĀ­igĀ­naĀ­tion of /ūėį€Ž’u¾sęē{ģZ !Ļ› rfq%Sśi”xoriĀ­gin that would cerĀ­tify the qualĀ­ity and oriĀ­gin of the olive oils from Galicia.





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