The General Assembly of Spain’s Agri-Food Cooperatives, celebrated this morning, has disclosed the results of the 5th Edition of Spain’s Agri-Food Cooperatives’ Awards. This edition was chaired by Luis Planas, Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Fishing and Food. Among the four awards given, Oleoestepa SCA, a second degree cooperative, won the ‘Cooperative of the Year’ award.
The jury chose Oleoestepa SCA for its key importance in its area of influence. It is one of the largest cooperatives in the production and marketing of extra virgin olive oil. The cooperative boasts 18 oil mills and has more than 6,500 partners. The jury also valued the cooperative’s sustainability efforts in the economic, social, and environmental arenas.
During the Awards’ ceremony, Ángel Villafranca, president of Spain’s Agro-Food Cooperatives, highlighted Oleoestepa’s strategic value noting the superior quality of its brand in the different markets, as well as the activities the cooperative carries out in the cultural and charity arenas, as well as its efforts towards equal opportunities for everyone.
Luis Planas, Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Fishing and Food, acknowledged Oleoestepa as Cooperative of the Year pointing out its commitment to sustainable development in its economic activity and the added value to its resulting product for future generations. He also remarked that the cooperative’s constant aim for improvement makes its extra olive oil a world-renowned high-quality brand both in Spain and abroad.
After showing his appreciation to Spain’s Agro-Food Cooperatives’ Board, Jesús Pedro Juárez Martín, chairman of Oleoestepa SCA, recognized “the quiet yet key work of the 6,500+ partner families dedicated in times of recession to this cooperative project founded in 1986”. He also added, “in our aim for ongoing improvement towards sustainability, we firmly intend to become a socially responsible and committed company in our area of influence. We are indeed the first olive oil cooperative able to boast the social responsibility management certificate”.
The goal of these awards is to make people aware of the values and conduct that we as an organization want to foster via actual examples.
Reasons for becoming the Cooperative of the Year
Oleoestepa’s commitment is not limited to seeking quality and excellence. Its cooperative nature makes it work in favor of its social responsibility as well.
The olive oil industry in the area surrounding Oleoestepa generates €225M annually and is responsible for over 224,000 salaries in olive-harvesting alone. We must add to that the activity in olive mills, labs, technical facilities, treatment plants, preservation, and packaging, as well as the management and marketing offices. A broad business network has sprouted in and around Oleoestepa, formed by companies that provide products and services in the olive oil industry.
Taking into account the company’s location in an area well below Spain’s development average, successful cooperative projects such as Oleoestepa’s paved the way for other companies to reach higher levels of social and economic development, so this region can attain a degree of development closer to the Spanish and European norm.
In the context of this social commitment, we can highlight Oleoestepa’s successful certification proving that the cooperative carries out its olive oil activities according to a social responsibility management system in compliance with international standard IQNet SR10. It is based on seven internationally renowned social responsibility principles: accountability, transparency, ethics, respect for each of the parties’ interests, legality, and international laws regarding conduct and human rights.
Oleoestepa is the first company to receive this international certification in the olive oil industry due to its responsible, sustainable, transparent management while being committed to society, the environment, its employees, and its clients.
Consumers are demanding food produced by companies committed to the values of such a certification, because it guarantees that all actors that participate in the value chain have the same concerns about issues so key to the present and future of our planet.
In its continued efforts towards sustainability, Oleoestepa shows its determination to become a socially responsible company, while committed to the environment, highlighting both its support to society and the main ethical and moral values of its activity.
This social objective also entails an environmental approach. Since the company was founded, Oleoestepa has remained determined to become an effective, efficient, and sustainable cooperative. It is focused on reaching the best possible economic results, with excellent management and a high quality product which fulfills its commitments to both the environment and the highest safety of its products, while also meeting IFS, BRC and ISO 14001 norms.
Oleoestepa is a cooperative company that has been producing and marketing extra virgin olive oil for more than 30 years. For its next oil harvesting season, it will boast 18 oil mills as partners, located in the provinces of Seville and Córdoba, Spain. This cooperative produces and markets Oleoestepa brands, including these varieties: hojiblanca, arbequina, Selección; and in the gourmet section Estepa Virgen and Egregio (organic).
Oleoestepa is made up of some 6,650 farmers with over 54,600 hectares of olive groves. The company produces an average of 35,000 MT of the highest quality olive oil. Since the company’s foundation the cooperative has aimed for excellence in olive oil, which is proven by the fact that Oleoestepa only markets extra virgin olive oil, i.e., the highest category in olive oil. This is all feasible thanks to its comprehensive production system which protects the environment while generating 87% of its production as extra virgin olive oil. Its high quality is also guaranteed by DOP Estepa (Protected Designation of Origin).
Oleoestepa operates in Spain while its export markets include the EU, the US, Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, among other regions.