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Changing the Olive Oil Value Chain: Food Regime and Development in Portugal

Transforming the Rural

ISBN: 978-1-78714-824-6, eISBN: 978-1-78714-823-9

Publication date: 30 June 2017


Over the last years, the olive oil produced in the Mediterranean countries has obtained growing success in international markets. Olive oil has benefited from the growing appetite of European and World consumers for products that are part of the so-called Mediterranean diet. For centuries, the olive crops were vital for communities that have occupied the territories bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Despite this long historical drive, this chapter analyses changes that took place since the Second World War. It is recognized that in the decades that followed the end of the war the transformation of western agriculture and rural societies together with commercial and cultural transnational connections have accelerated. Even in peripheral areas, such as Portugal, different processes of globalization have developed, making it necessary to identify the mechanisms that have established the connections to distant territories. Focused on the Portuguese case, this chapter examines how olive oil has contributed to inserting this peripheral territory in the global trade network. A path analysis of this crop is used as a lens to observe how various factors (political, ecological, technical, commercial, social and institutional) have been combined to inhibit or stimulate the inclusion of these rural territories in the dynamics of globalization.




This chapter was developed under the research project ‘Agriculture in Portugal: Food, development and sustainability (1870–2010)’ (PTDC/HIS-HIS/122589/2010), funded by the Portuguese agency for scientific and technological research (Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia) and written at the Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon (Instituto de Ciências Sociais, Universidade de Lisboa), between 2012 and 2015.


Freire, D. (2017), "Changing the Olive Oil Value Chain: Food Regime and Development in Portugal", Transforming the Rural (Research in Rural Sociology and Development, Vol. 24), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 197-220.



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