The mediterranean diet and the increasing demand of the olive oil sector: Shifts and environmental consequences

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Mediterranean countries play a crucial role as olive oil producers and consumers compared to other world regions. In particular, the Northern Mediterranean countries, where Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal alone represent 68% of the world’s olive oil production and 43% of world consumption. Nevertheless, aspects such as communication with emphasis on the benefits of the Mediterranean diet - which is a distinctive characteristic of the Mediterranean culture and identity and where olive oil plays an important role - the Slow Food Movement, the International Olive Council campaigns, and the successive Common Agricultural Policies, have triggered production, trade and consumption around the world. Such increases and stimuli brought and are still bringing changes to the olive oil sector such as a shifting tendency in production modes as well as modernization of the sector and new plantations, in response to consumers’ increasing demand. But these shifts are creating a paradoxical situation in the sense that the promotion of a healthier diet is having a perverse environmental effect as the production of olive oil is shifting to more intensive production systems and monoculture plantations which are changing landscapes and are referred to as environmentally harmful to the ecosystems. These issues are here debated and illustrated with case study examples, referring to the Mediterranean countries, particularly in the Iberian Peninsula.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-112
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • Agricultural policies
  • Environment
  • Mediterranean diet
  • Olive oil


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