People stayed at home and started to cook their own meals, where olive oil gained space at the table, with an increase in worldwide demand of 6 percent, which was also reflected in the demand for traditional Trás-os-Montes olive oils.
"We've never had such a good year," said Artur Aragão, from Casa Aragão, in Alfândega da Fé, district of Bragança, the second largest oil press in Trás-os-Montes, after Valpaços.
In the last campaign, this company produced 1.2 million liters of oil from the approximately 1,300 farmers it works with and had to purchase another 500,000 liters to meet demand.
From 2019 to 2020, it recorded an increase in sales of 23 percent and by 30 April 2021 it had already surpassed the 1.7 million € invoiced in 2020, with an increase of 25 percent compared to the entire previous year.
The explanation he finds is that “people were at home, had time to cook, to worry about their health and chose the best products”, in addition to “people were also careful to start buying Portuguese products”.
In restaurants olive oil sales dropped to “residual values, however, in terms of consumption through supermarkets, the increase was very, very large”.
The Portuguese market represents only “10 percent” of the turnover of this business, which exports most of its olive oils to countries from Brazil to Japan, and the European Union, and which has conquered new markets such as Kosher (Jewish) and is preparing to enter the Halal market (Muslim).
Casa Aragão has a closer relationship with Brazil, which has opened doors to new customers and has already promoted the creation of a group of organic producers in Alfândega da Fé, with 54 producers that reach an appreciation of 40 cents per liter of olive oil compared to other markets.
In the middle of the campaign, this company gathers “seven or eight more” workers to 11 permanent jobs and has been highlighted by the international awards it collects, with 18 this year alone in international competitions in Italy, New York and Japan.
“The olive oil from Trás-os-Montes is unique, if we look at the international awards, those that Portugal wins, the vast majority are from the olive oil from Trás-os-Montes”, stressed Artur Aragão.
As he pointed out, “they are completely unique and unique oils and always different from year to year, due to the characteristics of the olive grove, the climate, the soil, the more shale type of terrain and the mixture of olive varieties”.
Olive oil from Trás-os-Montes is a product of Portuguese origin with Protected Designation of Origin (DOP) by the European Union since 1996 and, according to data from sector organizations, generates around 30 million € for the national economy.
The region is the second largest producer, after Alentejo, and concentrates most of the traditional olive groves, which represent 15 percent of national olive oil production and extends over 200,000 hectares.