The ecological olives are of the manzanilla aloreña variety and are sold marinated in glass jars. Eco Alamillo, in Alhaurín el Grande, have been distributing them inside and outside the province for over eight years. Two years ago an unexpected opportunity presented itself and now the company sends over 5,000kgs of these olives marinated in seawater to France.
The use of seawater for cooking is a trend that has been consolidated for some time in this neighbouring country. Its health and nutritional benefits are well known, as seawater is rich in calcium, magnesium and iodine, i.e. minerals that facilitate the absorption of vitamins. In France, many households and even restaurants have succumbed to its virtues. From an organoleptic point of view however, it is not easy to tell the difference between seawater and artificially salted water.
It was from France that this demand for ecological olives in seawater first came according to Francisco Serrano, manager of the family business. For over two years they have been exporting this product which was designed exclusively for the French market.
The process to make this product is much the same as with other marinated olives, they are previously cured in a brine solution. "What's different is that we use seawater for the curing," explains Serrano.
Eco Alamillo uses seawater which has been previously treated and purified to make it fit for human consumption. Serrano works with a company from Palencia that uses water taken from the Bay of Biscay and with Vizmaragua in Jaén which extracts this raw material from Cabo de Gata in the Andalusian Mediterranean. In both cases, the seawater undergoes several filtering processes that eliminate all the impurities but manages to conserve all its healthy properties.
Currently Eco Alamillo has two large customers in Paris to whom it sends the organic manzanilla aloreña olives periodically. "It's a product with a good turnover of stock," he says.
Serrano adds that the company is open to sell the organic seawater olives both in Malaga and in the rest of Spain. Moreover, he is confident that in the coming years demand will grow in this country.
Of course the use of seawater makes the product more expensive; a half-kilo jar costs almost four euros. This price is easily affordable in the French market, which "is very demanding for quality, but is willing to pay well for it".
The Alhaurín company is also testing a new line that will open a niche in what is a very competitive market, raisin olives. These dehydrated black olives are popular in foreign markets.