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8 Numbers Behind… Olive Oil

8 Numbers Behind… Olive Oil

Are you an olive oil lover? Don't miss these interesting facts and figures about one of the most popular vegetal oils.

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Olive oil is, the natural oil obtained from olives is, for many reasons, the noblest of vegetable oils. We consume a lot of it, but not quite as much as we think. Here are some interesting facts and figures about olive oil.

0.43 kilos of olive oil per head is the figure representing the annual global consumption of olive oil. This, of course, is a statistical figure but, if we look more closely, we see that the average Greek consumes 23.7 a year, a Spaniard 13.62, an Italian 12.35 and a Moroccan 11.1. They are followed at a distance by the Portuguese (7.1), Syrians (7) and Tunisians (5).

The 2 million tons of olive oil produced in the European Community in 2016 (the most recent figure available), enables this area to lead the world production charts. Among the various European producers, Spain comes first with a share of about 50%, followed by Italy (30%) and Greece (20%). Then comes Syria, with 180000 tons, followed by Tunisia (150000), Turkey (143), Morocco (130), Algeria (73) and Jordan (29).

2.64 million tons of olive oil were consumed throughout the world in 2017. That’s quite a lot, isn’t it? Despite this, olive oil is not the most widely used vegetable oil. On the contrary: it occupies the very last place in this particular rating which is topped by palm oil (62.92), soybean oil (55.99), rapeseed oil (29.35) and sunflower seed oil (16.79). It even follows in the wake of coconut oil (3.22). Nevertheless, its consumption is growing constantly.

3.5 million tons of olive oil were produced globally in 2017. It is curious to observe the production trend of this oil in the course of the years because it would appear to confirm the widely held belief that the yield of olive trees alternates from one year to the next: excellent harvest, poor harvest, excellent harvest and so on. In 2016, its value amounted to just 2.55 compared to 3.12 in 2015, preceded by 2.4 in 2014, 3.2 in 2013 and 2.5 in 2012.

There are 4 main types of olive oil, which differ in their method and grade of extraction. The purest of all is “virgin” oil, which is only extracted mechanically and, in its turn, falls into the three categories of Extra Virgin, Virgin and Ordinary Virgin. Then there is the so-called Lampante olive oil, which is also extracted mechanically but is either used for industrial purposes or further refined for human consumption. In the latter case, a third type is obtained, known as “Refined” olive oil, whose refining process entails the use of chemical agents to make it odourless and colourless, while preserving the glyceride structure. Finally, there is olive-pomace oil, which is the fruit of the chemical extraction of pomace, the leftover paste resulting from previous extractions.

55% is the minimum quantity of oleic acid contained in olive oil, but based on various parameters, comprising soil, longitude and altitude, it may even be as high as 83%. Linoleic acid (3.5-21%) and palmitic acid (7.5-20%) also vary a lot and confer particular characteristics to the different olive oils on the market. 

60 degrees is the ideal temperature for cooking in olive oil, one of the most effective ways of enjoying a quality olive oil. For example, buy yourself a piece of fresh swordfish, wash off the blood and remove the fibres, and then dice it into cubes of about one and a half centimetres. Prepare some organic lemon zest cut into pieces and some whole capers and put all ingredients into a saucepan with some olive oil at 50°C for about thirty minutes (to keep the temperature constant, use a cooking processor or a thermal immersion circulator). Finally, remove the fish from its liquid and plate up for serving immediately, seasoned to taste with a few grains of salt. Enjoy!

100 grams of fats are contained in 100 grams of olive oil. This being an oil, it goes without saying that its composition is a simple one, even though this figure is indicative and does not take into account the traces of other nutrients. For instance, there is a discrete quantity of Vitamin K (60.2 micrograms), Vitamin E (14.35 milligrams) and Iron (0.56 milligrams).


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