As a business area, agriculture involves operating our own or rented estates, on which we plant olive trees, as well as the management of mills for processing the olives. In this area, we have a major project – one of the biggest in the world – that is already fully operational in Portugal, Spain and Morocco. But a Glocal company does not want to be present only in the world's three main olive-oil-exporting countries and, for this reason, we will continue to expand.
We work in agriculture with Elaia, a joint project run by the Sovena Group and Atitlan Society, whose aim is the production of high-quality olive oils. At Elaia, we have more than 14,600 hectares in operation in Spain and Morocco, but mostly in Portugal, largely due to the evolution of the Alqueva project, which has been a very important development factor in the irrigated areas.
The entire production process is conducted in accordance with the highest quality and control standards, from the fields where the olives are grown to the mills where the olive oil is produced, ensuring total traceability. The olive oil is produced in our four mills, which are equipped with the most modern technology available in the sector and transform 100% of our harvest.
|Olive Mils||Grinding capacity (Tonnes olives/day)||Cellar (Tonnes Oil)|
|Portugal||Ferreira do Alentejo (Marmelo)||11.300||5.200|
One of the goals of the Elaia project is to integrate all of the olive and olive oil segments, from growing the olives to marketing the final product – olive oil –, strengthening our market position and enhancing the value of our considerable industrial and commercial structure.
This investment is extremely important for upgrading and expanding the olive plantation area and for innovation in olive oil making; consequently, there has been a very clear investment on Mediterranean agriculture and on the production of olive oils that are unmatched in their quality, thereby strengthening our position in the sector and on the world stage.
Types of Plantacion
The improved knowledge of the potential of olive plantations, combined with new farming techniques, resulted in the so-called "Nova Olivicultura" ("New Olive Farming"), which uses drop by drop irrigation and allows production to be increased and stabilized. This way, we are able to maximize the selection of varieties, guaranteeing the homogeneity and quality of the plantations and ensuring greater efficiency as a result of the mechanization of fundamental tasks, such as harvesting and pruning.
This evolution gave rise to the Intensive Olive Plantations and, later, to the Super-intensive Olive Plantations. Both systems are currently used by Elaia and their selection depends upon the reality of each piece of farmland, from the relief to sun exposure, the goal being the maximization of the respective resources.
Intensive olive plantations have a high density of trees – normally between 300 and 400 per hectare – and benefit from modern systems, such as the aforementioned drop by drop irrigation system. There is also a greater rationalization of resources, with better control over watering and fertilizing. Super-intensive olive plantations, or hedge-type olive plantations, are very similar to wine-growing. They permit even higher densities, exceeding 1,200 olive trees per hectare and going as high as 2,000. Although they require a much higher investment, super-intensive olive plantations allow greater productivity per hectare, early entry into production and fully mechanized operations. This makes harvesting so effective that it can exceed five hectares a day, leading to greater efficiency and rationalization of costs and resources.
It is worth noting that super-intensive plantations are harvested for the first time three years after planting and, from the fifth year onwards, they can reach an average annual production figure of between 10,000 and 12,000 kilos per hectare. Also with their first production in the third year, super-intensive olive plantations can achieve average production figures of between 8,500 and 10,000 kilos per hectare from the sixth or seventh year onwards.
This project is growing day after day and, at the present time, already comprises around 10,000 hectares in the Alto and Baixo Alentejo regions. The management hubs are located in Ferreira do Alentejo, Campo Maior, Elvas and Avis. The first plantations were done in summer 2007 in Elvas and Ferreira do Alentejo, with the first harvest occurring in 2009. In 2012, the production figure exceeded 50 million kilos of olives.
The estates of Cuadrado, El Barrillo, Sevillano, Huyuelas, Huesar and Benazurera are located in the Extremadura region of Spain, in the area of Vegas Altas, province of Badajoz, and in Andalusia, province of Cordoba, considered the veritable heartland of olive farming, since it is the biggest producing region in the world. In Extremadura, the plantations date from 2007 and 2009, whereas the ones in Andalusia are more recent, dating from 2014. There are three varieties planted in the hedge-style system: Arbequina, Arbosana and Oleana.
Soprolives was our first step into farming. The company is based in Morocco, where it conducts all of its business. A part of Elaia, it is jointly owned by the Moroccan Group Somed. In 2015, the Moroccan Ministry for Agriculture recognized the initiative as the best integrated project in the area of olive farming in the country. This is an important project for our Group, since it constitutes an important supply platform for our operation in the USA, and for the country itself. It makes a valuable contribution to the Moroccan trade balance and to the modernization of a sector that is still overwhelmingly traditional.
Whilst pursuing its Mission and Vision, ELAIA LAGAR has established as an important guideline of its strategy, together with the guidelines of the SOVENA GROUP it is part of:
With that purpose, ELAIA LAGAR has defined and implemented a Quality, Food Safety and Environmental Policy, that is sustained in the following principles:
In order to achieve the mentioned commitment, ELAIA LAGAR establishes annually objectives and goals, disseminating them in the organization and periodically assessing its level of fulfillment.
The board of directors of ELAIA LAGAR, as well as ALL its employees, clearly identify themselves with the mentioned commitments, and commit to act focused on the achievement of the objectives established, thereby emphasizing the importance of this document and all the rules and procedures implicit to it.
The Board of Directors,
Lisbon, June 14, 2016