Cargill olive oil joint venture points to healthy fat demand

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Olive oil, Cargill

Agri-business giant Cargill has engaged in a joint venture with
Spain's largest olive oil producer, Hojiblanca, to source, trade
and supply customers worldwide with private label and bulk olive
oil.

The agreement will be put into effect "once we have the paperwork done, but soon",​ Hojiblanca spokesperson Esteban Carneros told NutraIngedients-USA. The companies are not yet disclosing the duration or dollar amount of the deal. The venture comes as olive oil demand globally is said to be on the rise, primarily for its health benefits. The oil forms an integral part of the much lauded Meditarranean diet. This diet has gained credence with nutritionists and consumers alike as evidence has linked it to lower incidence of heart disease, obesity and certain types of cancers. Other foods in the Meditarranean diet are fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and moderated amounts of red wine. Olive oil is said to be the richest in monounsaturated oleic acid, to be high in antioxidants, and to raise HDL (or "good") cholesterol levels. According to the UN Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO), Mediterranean countries produce 98 percent of the total world production of olives. Of the olive oil manufactured from this, 85 percent is destined for human consumption. The fact that the US firm is combining forces with the Spanish olive oil player points to growth of the sector. "As a private company Cargill does not make detailed public market predictions or comment in detail about industry trends. What we can say is that global olive oil demand is rising significantly,"​ the company issued in a statement to NutraIngredients-USA. And this initiative is likely to cause ripples in the olive oil market - Hojiblanca claims to be the world's largest olive oil producer, while Cargill's global vegetable oil network is well-established. Carneros said the global demand for olive oil has been growing and is expected to still increase significantly and the joint venture will focus on meeting this need. The deal will strengthen Cargill's involvement in high premium olive oil, and is set to complement the company's existing oil offering to customers worldwide that in volume terms has focused primarily on sunflower, rapeseed, soya, corn and palm. Hojiblanca is a cooperative of olive oil producers in the southern region of Andalucia, producing an annual average of 90,000 tonnes of crude olive oil yearly, with 49 oil mills and 28,000 farmers. It is the market leader in Spain for extra virgin olive oil. According to FAO 2005 figures, the country produce 36 percent of the world's olive oil supply. Cargill currently bottles olive oil at plants in Spain, Belgium and France. The company also distributes to customers across Europe, Asia and the Americas. "The JV will offer private label customers in Spain and worldwide the opportunity to retail bespoke products, tailor-made to their requirements,"​ said José Moreno, president of Hojiblanca. Cargill has approximately 1,200 employees in Spain and is active in grain and oilseed trading, oilseed crushing and refining, among other food ingredient industries.

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