How does the physical environment affect olive oil? |

How does the physical environment affect olive oil?

June 08, 2020

Reading time: 1 min

Olives are grown all around the world, meaning different physical environments and different cultivation techniques that produce olive oils of different sensory characteristics. 

The Mediterranean olive growers are dominating the world's olive oil market, producing over 70% of the world's olive oil. The terroir of the olive oil in the Mediterranean is very different, not from country to country but also from olive growers to olive growers. 

Land, altitude and temperature

The physical, biological and chemical interactions of soil and olives influence both the sensory characteristics as well as their polyphenol content.

Read more: So much talk about polyphenols - what are they?

Difficult terrains, hilly, poor and unproductive land will give more aromatic and usually more exceptional olive oils than flatlands. Fruitiness, bitterness and pungency are more intense in olive oils from dry land cultivation.

The dry and sunny season will produce a more sharp and bitter good quality olive oil while altitude and temperatures can influence different fatty compositions. 


- A. Kiritsakis, F. Shahidi, Olives and Olive Oil as Functional Foods: Bioactivity, Chemistry and Processing, 2017

- G. Beaufoy, The Environmental Impact of Olive Oil Production in the EU

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