Aceitunas Torrent, S.L. is a family company, led today by the fourth generation, specializing in the processing, commercialization and distribution of table olives. With sales in more than 70 countries, the company has established itself as one of the leading producers and exporters of olives worldwide.
The history of Aceitunas Torrent in Cordoba dates back to 1898, when Francisco Torrent Terol left his native Alicante to set up a business next to the Tower of La Malmuerta, where barrels for storing olive oil and table olives are still made today. The processing, packaging and commercialization of these table olives would later become the firm’s core business activity.
The Aceitunas Torrent factory moved to a new location on Calle Alonso el Sabio, where it would remain for almost 60 years. Its photo still manages to raise a nostalgic smile from our grandparents.
Aceitunas Torrent started exporting when Francisco Torrent Terol decided to go on his first trip abroad – specifically, to South America – which sparked off a lifelong passion that has been passed down to subsequent generations: taking native Cordoba olives to every corner of the world.
Máximo Torrent San Emeterio took over the running of the company after years of working in the family business alongside his father, and demonstrated his visionary nature by propelling the Hojiblanca variety to its status as the top quality table olive; today, it is the most widely eaten olive in the world.
As well as picking up the reins from his father, Máximo, Francisco Torrent Béjar also spearheaded a process of modernization within the company, anticipating the industrial revolution that would transform the olive sector over the coming years. During this time he transferred the factory to the industrial estate of Las Quemadas along with the installation of new systems, and processing incorporated a fundamental new step with the introduction of fermenting agents.
The purchase of more than 90,000 m2 of land at the heart of the Cordoban countryside in Aguilar de la Frontera would facilitate the considerable growth that the company went on to experience, a period that was marked by increased production capacity, the mechanization of processes and the professionalization of services.
Opening ceremony of the Aceitunas Torrent factory in Aguilar de la Frontera.
The plant was enlarged along with the modernization of the production lines, and a new fleet of trucks was acquired, thus increasing both production and distribution capacity.
Launch of the Torrent 1898 extra-virgin olive oil.
This year was a very special landmark for the Torrent family, with the signing of a family protocol setting out a philosophy that would transcend the purely business aspect of the company, laying ground rules that would not only guarantee the longevity of the business group but also the solidity of the values that have supported every generation of the Torrent dynasty.
In this same year the company acquired its head offices in the centre of Cordoba and presented Grupo Torrent, under whose strategic umbrella the different business activities of Aceitunas Torrent are run. (photo of Don Francisco with his grandchildren).
Francisco and Blanca Torrent Cruz, the fourth generation of the Torrent family and part of the management team for the last 15 years, took over the general management of Grupo Torrent and Aceitunas Torrent, respectively. Francisco Torrent Béjar was appointed Honorary President and threw himself into training the fifth generation as well as writing his memoirs (photo of Fran and Blanca).
Various R&D&I projects were undertaken to minimize water consumption, involving actions such as changes to production processes, the filtering and reuse of water, and treatment and evaporation processes.
Aceitunas Torrent celebrates its 120th anniversary.
By Francisco Torrent Béjar,
1898 – 1998, “A century is watching us”
The cultivation of Gordal and Manzanillo olives today continues the thousand-year-old traditions of the ancient agricultural cultures of Iberian, Roman and Arabic-Andalusian times. However, the Spanish table olive really began to take off when exports to the New World began in the early 16th century.
There is a document in the archive of the Seville Protocols (dated 9 December 1510) that records the first exports to the Indies.
“Diego Rodríguez Pepino, a resident of Triana, master of the ship ‘Santiago’, charters said ship to Diego Martínez, a resident of Villalba de Alcor, to load upon it four tonnes, three of wine in barrels, one quarter of olives, and the rest in fruits, destined for the Port of Santo Domingo, in Hispaniola”.
According to figures published by the International Olive Council (IOC), global consumption of olives in the last 25 years has multiplied 2.8 times, increasing by 173% over the period between 1990/91 and 2015/16. To be specific, 2.61 tonnes of olives were eaten. Olives are most widely-consumed in Europe, especially in Spain and Italy, followed by Turkey, Egypt and North America.
The name of this variety (literally ‘white leaf’) comes from the whitish colour of the underside of the leaf, exports of which as a table olive were prohibited in the 1950s. The story went that olives that were not grown ‘in the shadow of La Giralda’ were not suitable for eating.
It was not until the 1965-1966 season that the provinces of Cordoba and Malaga were authorized to export their olives, which was recorded in the Special Export Register of table olives: a shipment of 500,000 kilos of Hojiblanca olives for exporting exclusively to the markets of the USA and Canada.
Máximo Torrent had already noted the potential of the Hojiblanca variety, the main olive variety with which Aceitunas Torrent works today. Out of all the commercial olive varieties, it currently tops the ranking in terms of the number of kilos processed and exported for consumption as table olives.
The time-honoured tradition, Andalusian in origin, of assessing and measuring olives by the number of fruits that fit into the weighing unit still persists today. In other words, the olives are still classified by size (caliber) according to the number of fruits that ‘fit’ into one kilogram.
Today the measurement system is based on kilograms, but in the early days they used to use pounds and going even further back to the time of the Moors, the weight was measured in arrates. Gordal olives are measured in tens based on seventy per kilo, while the Manzanilla and Hojiblanca olives are measured in twenties, with five types each, from 160 to 180 olives per kilo to the smallest possible measurement of 420 to 440 olives per kilo.