The olive oil of Bajo Aragón is extra virgin and is made from olives (Empeltre and a few Arbequina varieties) that are cultivated, processed, packed and marketed in the same region. There are over 37,000 hectares of olive fields in the officially designated region (which includes the region of Bajo Aragón in Teruel and Zaragoza). The ‘Consejo Regulador de la Denominación de Origen del Aceite del Bajo Aragón’ (a regulatory institution governing the designation of origin) was created on 23 June 1999 to guarantee production quality and protect the economic and social importance of the product in the region.
Olive trees cover 17% of the utilised agricultural area. 60% of the farms are family owned, and rarely have more than 5 hectares of land. The main crops in the villages near to the Matarraña River are olive trees, almond trees and vines. Olive trees are located in little fields of a hectare or less, which they share in almost equal proportion to almond trees. Because the trees are so small, mechanization has proved difficult, while competition from other kinds of oil as well as olives from other places, not to mention the harsh weather conditions, have caused a shift to cereal crops, meaning that olive farming has become a secondary or even marginal industry in some villages.
Olive trees also have an important social function in the region. Thanks to the gradual modernisation of the fields, this crop is an increasingly more important factor in the Bajo Aragón economy. Furthermore, olive trees play an important environmental role by reducing the dryness of the region, as this tree is very resistant and has formed part of the landscape from time immemorial.