The olive oil sector in the European Union

The sector consists of growers, cooperatives, pressing mills, refiners, blenders, and companies involved in various aspects of marketing. Three broad types of production can be distinguished: traditional groves, often of ancient olive trees; more managed traditional plantations involving a higher use of inputs; and intensive, generally recent, plantations using more mechanisation and other technologies including irrigation.

This mix of ancient and modern helps explain the differing farm sizes, ownership characteristics and processing structures that exist within the EU. Likewise, large differences in production systems occur within each producing region. The average holding size is as low as 1 hectare in, for example, Italy, though olive holdings in Spain are larger (6 hectares on average).

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