The olive branch has been a symbol of friendship and peace for centuries.
The olive is one the oldest trees cultivated by man.
The most extensive species is the Olea Europea.


of the olive tree

The Prehistoric Age
Fossils of olive leaves have been found at archaeological sites from the Pliocene at Mongardino, Italy. Fossilized remains have also been discovered in Upper Paleolithic layers at the Relilai snail farm in north Africa, and pieces of wild olive trees and olive pits have been discovered at archaeological sites dating to the Chalcolithic and the Bronze Age in Spain. The existence of the olive tree dates back to the 7th century BC.
The Origin of wild olive
The origin of the wild olive tree has been traced to Asia Minor, where it grew in abundance and formed thick forests. It appears to have spread from Syria to Greece via Anatolia (De Candolle, 1883) although other hypotheses point to lower Egypt, Nubia, Ethiopia, the Atlas Mountains or certain regions of Europe. For that reason, Caruso believed it to be indigenous to the entire Mediterranean Basin and places the origin in Asia Minor some six millennia ago. The Assyrians and Babylonians were the only ancient civilizations in the area who were not familiar with the olive tree. Taking the area that extends from the southern Caucasus to the Iranian plateau and the Mediterranean coasts of Syria and Palestine (Acerbo) to be the original home of the olive tree, its cultivation developed considerably in these last two regions, spreading from there to the island of Cyprus and on towards Anatolia or from the island of Crete towards Egypt.
16th - 6th Century B.C.
In the 16th century BC the Phoenicians started disseminating the olive throughout the Greek isles, later introducing it to the Greek mainland between the 14th and 12th centuries BC where its cultivation increased and gained great importance in the 4th century BC when Solon issued decrees regulating olive planting.
6th Century B.C.
From the 6th century BC onwards, the olive spread throughout the Mediterranean Basin as far as Tripoli, Tunis and the island of Sicily. From there, it moved to southern Italy. Presto, however, insists that the presence of the olive tree in Italy dates back three centuries further, before the fall of Troy (1200 BC). Another Roman historian (Penestrello) claims that the first olive tree was brought to Italy during the reign of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus the Elder (616 – 578 BC), possibly from Tripoli or Gabes (Tunisia). Cultivation spread from south to north, from Calabria to Liguria. When the Romans arrived in North Africa, the Berbers knew how to graft wild olives, extensively developing its cultivation throughout the territories they occupied.
The Romans
The Romans continued the expansion of the olive tree to the countries bordering the Mediterranean, using it as a peaceful weapon in their conquests to settle the people. It was introduced in Marseille around 600 BC and spread from there to the whole of Gaul. The olive tree made its appearance in Sardinia in Roman times, while in Corsica it is said to have been brought by the Genovese after the fall of the Roman Empire.
The Phoenicians in Spain
Olive growing was introduced into Spain during the maritime domination of the Phoenicians (1050 BC) but did not develop to a noteworthy extent until the arrival of Scipio (212 BC) and Roman rule (45 BC). After the third Punic War, olives occupied a large stretch of the Baetica valley and spread towards the central and Mediterranean coastal areas of the Iberian Peninsula including Portugal. The Arabs brought their varieties with them to the south of Spain and influenced the spread of cultivation so much that the Spanish words for olive (aceituna), oil (aceite), and wild olive tree (acebuche) and the Portuguese words for olive (azeitona) and for olive oil (azeite), are all rooted in the Arabic.
The Discovery of America
With the discovery of American (1492), the cultivation of the olive spread beyond the confines of the Mediterranean. The first olive trees were brought from Seville to the Antilles and later to the American Continent. By 1560 olive groves were being cultivated in Mexico, then later in Peru, California, Chile and Argentina, where one of the plants brought over during the Conquest, the old Arauco olive tree, still stands to this day.
Today. The olive tree all over the world
In more modern times the olive tree has continued to spread beyond the Mediterranean and today is cultivated in places as far removed from its origins as southern Africa, Australia, Japan and China. From the words of Duhamel, “the Mediterranean ends where the olive tree no longer grows,” it might be more appropriate to say, “Where the sun permits, the olive tree takes root and gains ground.”

The origin of the olive tree is lost in the mists of time, it fuses and converges with the expansion of the Mediterranean civilizations that for centuries governed the destiny of humanity and left their mark on Western culture.

The annual cycle of the olive tree


From November to March


From March to April


From April to September 


From September to November

The olive is a fleshy stone fruit, of variable size, with a single seed inside. It belongs to the Oleaceae taxonomic family. It is the fruit of the olive tree (Olea europaea), a Mediterranean tree brought from Asia Minor around the 6th century BC, originating from the wild olive (Olea chrysophylla lam), better known as the «acebuche» (Olea europea oleaster).

It has a bitter component (oleuropeína), a low sugar content (2.6-6%) in comparison to other stone fruits (12% or more) and a high oil content (18-28%) depending on the time of year and the variety.

These characteristics mean it cannot be consumer directly from the tree and requires a series of processes that differ considerably from one region to another while also depending on the variety. Some olives are an exception to this rule because upon maturation they sweeten directly on the tree but it most cases they are sweetened through fermentation. One example is the Thrubolea variety in Greece.

The oleuropein is a distinctive feature of the olive that must be eliminated due to its harshly bitter taste, although it is not harmful to health. To remove it, the olives generally undergo treatment with sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide or are cured in brine or rinsed repeatedly in water, depending on local methods and customs.

In Spain, there are many varieties of olive (Picual, Hojiblanca, Manzanilla Arbequina, Lechín, Picudo and more) with their own characteristics depending on the degree of maturation. However, those most commonly used for processing and production of “table olives” are the varieties we package here at Goya España:

Known internationally as the “Queen” olive, this variety has a large size, a good flesh/pit ratio and low oil content.

Globally considered to be the best quality table olive due to yield and quality of the fruit/oil.

This is an important variety for its dual use as a table olive and for oil. Its texture is firm, and its oil is of a high quality.

Principal production processes

Green olives

Olives that have reached the right size for harvesting in the process of maturing and before the color begins to turn.

Natural purple

Olives with pinkish, oak or claret colored tones harvested before the maturation process ends.

Black Olives

Olives harvested before their maturation ends. They turn black due to a process of oxidation, thus losing their bitterness.

The world’s olive grove consists of 850 million trees occupying a surface area of more than 10 million hectares. Of that, an area of over one million hectares is dedicated to the production of table olives.

Spain has 2,770,424 hectares of olive groves of which 197,090 (7.11%) hectares are dedicated to the production of table olives. These are mainly concentrated around Andalusia and Extremadura, home to 85.21% and 12.77% of the total respectively, the two regions combining for 97.98% of all domestic olive cultivation. (Source: International Olive Council (IOC) and ESYRCE)

Spain produces more than 20% of the world’s table olives, making it the world leader in table olive production. Spain is followed by Egypt, Turkey, Algeria, Greece, Syria, Morocco, Peru and Argentina.

Average world production over the last five seasons is 2,894,100 tons, of which 561,600 were produced in Spain.






















Production in Spain

In the 2021-2022 season, global table olive production was around 657,715 tons.

Andalusia accounted for 77% of domestic production, with 506,617 tons. Sevilla with 361,153, Córdoba with 80,810 and Málaga with 59,995, are the provinces with the highest production levels.

For its part, Extremadura generates 141,544 tons, which is 21.5% of Spanish production, between Badajoz with 82,876 and Cáceres with 58,667.