External NAT commission meeting
and conference on
Olive oil, the basis of the Mediterranean diet and a valuable ally for health
Olive oil trees are part of emblematic picture of many Mediterranean regions' landscape as well as part of local rural culture, culinary traditions and heritage. Olive farming is also an important source of employment and economic activity, creating more than €7 000 million in production value every year. On top of that, if grown sustainably, it provides natural benefits for the environment and biodiversity.
The European Union is the largest producer and consumer of the olive oil in the world. While olive trees are grown in Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Cyprus, Slovenia and Malta, about 95% of the olive production in the EU is concentrated in Spain, Italy and Greece. In these countries, the structure of olive oil production sites is very different. While Spanish farms have the largest average olive plantation size, in other producing countries, such as Greece more than 90 % of farms have fewer than 5 hectares of olive plantations.
Health benefits of olive oil consumption are widely known and acknowledged. While looking into challenges and prospects of the olive oil sector in its first part, the second part of the conference will focus on ways to promote healthy lifestyle based on the Mediterranean diet, on health risks associated with an unhealthy diet and on the need for a shift in consumer behaviour.