The new PONS mill is almost a reality, and has been the result of a design and construction process that has lasted almost 4 years in its different phases, from the decision of its location, through an extensive analysis of product and process needs, to finally its technological design and construction.
The new facility is part of an expansion project that PONS launched in 2020, and with which it has invested heavily in the entire agricultural production and processing phase, making the company’s business activity in the area of L’Albagés increase exponentially.
The mill was born from the need to transform the production of the 230 hectares of olive trees in super-intensive cultivation, which are added to the 120 hectares of traditional olive trees, into top quality oils that guarantee the commercialization of the high ranges of extra virgin oils that PONS offers to the market worldwide.
The new mill is an ideal complement to the traditional mill that the company owns in the village of L’Albagés. A stone mill that we still use for the production of traditional Arbequina oils, with a range of packaged products that we market with all the history and tradition as a seal of origin.
The passage of time, added to climate change, has generated an added challenge in the design of the new mill and in the definition of the machinery necessary, to carry out the process with guarantees of success. The reality is that in recent years we have been encountering later cold spells and summer temperatures that have extended over time to cover a large part of the month of October. This is a problem for the production of quality olive oil. The high temperatures have an important effect on the correct maturation of the olive, but they also have a critical effect on the process of transformation and extraction of the oil.
For all these reasons, a multidisciplinary team of the company spent a long time analyzing the sector, the extraction machines of different manufacturers, travelling around the main producing countries, visiting installations in Spain, Italy and Portugal, learning from the experiences of other quality producers, in order to design an innovative mill, a unique installation that has to be a reference within the olive oil sector.
Temperature and time control are the two most important factors during the transformation process.
PONS sees olive oil production as a process that starts in the field with the harvesting of the olives at the optimum moment, and which has to take place without interruption until the highest quality olive oil has been obtained. The logistics in the field and transport to the mill must work perfectly, without interruptions that cause the fruit to overheat.
In order to keep transport times short and protect the olives from problems of overpressure and overheating, the mill has been located in the centre of the farm, following the concept of pago, which is well known in quality agricultural production, and which the company is already using for the production of its Clos Pons wines.
In the new PONS mill there is no accumulation of olives during the process. This is in line with what we have mentioned above, and should allow us to avoid evolutionary and oxidative processes that would detract from quality.
The fact of not having storage hoppers adds pressure to the process and forces us to work very well organised, but at the same time guarantees that the olive will only be harvested when it needs to be processed quickly.
The facility is equipped with a cold room, which must allow the temperature of the olives to be lowered on days when the weather is adverse and the ambient temperature leads to an excessively hot fruit in order to start the extraction process with quality guarantees. This is the only situation in which a lengthening of the processing times is contemplated, and this is when the olive will be left to rest in the cold chamber.
The mill is equipped with a double production line, where quantity and quality go hand in hand. The production of special oils and the production of high quality varietal oils will share a facility full of air conditioning systems, with controlled environments where oxidation is avoided, and where the preservation of the quality parameters of the olive oils are permanently under control.
The PONS mill is a mill 4.0. From the field to the oil cellar, we control the process with sensors, detectors and analysis equipment that will allow us to collect as much data as possible, to analyze and work on them, in order to make decisions that will lead us to excellence in the production of olive oils.
The PONS team has a great challenge ahead of it. In the time we have been working on this project, it has been a focus of attention. The new mill is a pioneering, unique and innovative installation. The sector is watching us, and this motivates us on our way to achieving the best products for our customers.
COO / Chief Operating Officer PONS