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Carbonell: the oil from Córdoba which fed the British fleet

The olive oil company founded by Antonio Carbonell y Llácer in Córdoba in 1866 won the British Admiralty International Competition at the end of the XIX century.

During the first decades of the 20th century, the British Empire covered a fifth part of the emerging lands across the planet, with a population reaching a quarter of the total in the world at the time, over more than 450 million people. In the defence and communications across this Empire, the British fleet reached a fame of the size similar to their homeland, but few people know the crews of all their ships were using olive oil from Córdoba.

Carbonell opened in Córdoba in 1866, and in 1888 won the British Admiralty International Competition, awarding a tender to supply the entire British fleet with olive oil from then until the end of the First World War.

This international trampoline which lasted some three decades helped to extend the Córdoba brand across the planet, a market which has since then been booming worldwide.

The commercial expansion of this oil was accompanied by the achievements made during its history, since the foundation as Casa Carbonell in 1866 by Antonio Carbonell y Llácer, the denomination of Official Supplier to the Spanish Royal Household was awarded in 1895 during the reign of the regent queen María Cristina, until its expansion in the hands of Carlos Carbonell y Morand – son of the founder – who took over the reigns of the company when only 22, and who directed his talents into exports at the end of the 19th century.

In fact, in the first third of the 20th century, Carbonell consolidated its production by acquiring many olive groves until when in 1950 it became the leading exporter of olive oil in Spain, and a recognisable world brand with a presence in more than 70 countries.

Images date back to those changing times of history during the last century, the image of brown Córdoba woman which Carbonell used as a logo on their bottles of olive oil which went around the world, from the first label in 1904 until in recent years, in 2009, the firm modernised her ‘adapting to the current Spanish woman’.

Carbonell – the brand which now belongs to the Deoleo Group – has granted to the city of Córdoba a sculpture of Carlos Carbonell y Morand, the impulse and main edifice of the firm. The figure, a bust in bronze on a pedestal of granite, was transferred from the installations of the Deoleo Group to the Plaza Flor del Olivo in Córdoba city, where it has shined since then.