How does the physical environment affect extra virgin olive oil? |

How does the physical environment affect extra virgin olive oil?

Pontus Hagman

Olives are grown worldwide, meaning different physical environments and cultivation techniques produce different sensory characteristics of olive oils.

The Mediterranean olive growers dominate the world's olive oil market, producing over 70% of the world's olive oil. However, 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 - how do they affect olive oil? 

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

What are polyhenols?

There is so much talk about extra virgin olive oil and polyphenols you might have already heard. Polyphenols are antioxidants and a critical component that makes olive oil a healthy product.


Rugged terrains, hilly, poor and unproductive land will give more aromatic and usually more exceptional olive oils than flatlands. On the other hand, 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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