European olives

European olives: add some variety to your Canadian table

Presented by Europe at Your Table, with Olives from Spain

If you’re not on the train of including European olives as part of your diet yet, it’s time to get on board.

We already know that olives from Europe and across the continent appeal on so many levels. They offer numerous proven health benefits, they’re versatile across a wide range of snacks and meals, and they’re easy and practical. All in all, it’s no wonder that they have been such a popular item on Canadian tables and menus, and they continue to be in high demand. The demonstrably high import statistics prove their allure to Canadians.

But there’s more to it than that. European olives come in a range of varieties, each with their own appeal and attraction. Let us break it down for you.

The variety of life

Europe is home to around 700 different varieties of olives, and table olives are one of the few products that combine the four basic tastes of sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. The various types of olive are defined by how ripe they are when harvested, which is denoted by their colouring. Green olives are semi-ripe, while black olives (which range from black to deep purple) are harvested almost or completely ripe.

When it comes to table olives in particular, Europe At Your Table highlights three hugely popular and refined varieties. Try them today!


Gordal means “the fat one” in Spanish and that’s a highly appropriate name, as they are popular for their fleshy pulp and large size. These green olives, also known “the beauty of Spain,” are one of the best-known varieties globally and are characterized by an oval and slightly asymmetric shape. Their low oil content means they are never used in olive oil production. Instead, they are a common choice for a table olive. Their fleshy texture, delicate bitter-salty flavour balance locked in by a fermentation process, and subtle aftertaste make them a real treat for your table.


These olives, meaning “little apple” due to their round shape, are one of the most popular eating olives in the world. However, their high oil content and quality means they are part of the small selection of dual-purpose olives used for both eating and oil production. One of the Manzanilla’s best qualities is how easy it is to remove its pit, as well as their generous flesh. They have a deliciously smooth texture and little bitterness, making them a popular snack olive. Their already pleasant taste can be enhanced further with marinating in a mixture of olive oil with a variety of ingredients. These can range from fresh herbs to garlic, honey, or orange – it all depends on what you want! The ease of removing the pit also makes them suitable for stuffing with a variety of ingredients which can include pepper, anchovies, cheese, or a whole host of other additions.


Hojiblanca olives are one of the most popular black table olives, offering a firm pulp, grassy and fruity flavour, and delicious aroma. They are perfect for stews, marinades, or as a standalone snack! While the colour of their thicker skin ranges from deep purple to black, their name of “white leaf” refers to the gorgeous silvery shade of the tree’s leaves. They must be harvested early and subsequently undergo a ripening acceleration process to bring out their dark colour. These olives contain a small amount of oil, but their high quality means they are, like the Manzanilla, used for both olive oil and eating.

Consistently high demand

With quality and variety like this, it’s no wonder Europe is the global leader in producing and exporting olives. In fact, they’re hugely popular. Spain, in particular, has 16% of the world’s olive trees, makes up 21% of world production, and boast 30% of world olive exports. Canada has long been a huge importer of Spanish olives. As of 2018, according to Comtrade, more than 80% of Canadian-consumed olives are sourced from Europe, and nearly 50% from Spain.

It’s no wonder they have such consistently high appeal. European olives boast a true seal of quality and a rich history, with deep cultural roots and a tradition of cultivation for several thousand years in southern areas of the continent. That results in centuries of quality improvement and technique refinement that cannot be matched.

When it comes to adding olives to your menu or your table, don’t settle for second-best. With olives from Europe, you know what you’re getting: history, quality, and variety.

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The content of this promotion campaign represents the views of the author only and is his / her sole responsibility. The European Commission and the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (CHAFEA) do not accept any responsibility for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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