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Antonio Luque Luque

Ricardo Migueláñez. Agricultural Engineer. @rmiguelanez

Antonio Luque Luque was born in Málaga in 1958. The son and grandson of olive producers, Luque has always had ties to agriculture through the family property, which includes a pig farm in the region of Antequera, close to Villanueva de Algaidas, the main olive-growing town in the province. In fact, he considers himself a farmer above all else. As a result of his interest in agriculture, he obtained a degree in agricultural engineering from the University of Córdoba in 1980.

He has always had ties to cooperatives, and promoted the creation of the Provincial Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives in Málaga (today known as Agri-food Cooperatives of Málaga), of which he has been president since the end of 1997, and the Andalusian Federation, which he presided over from 1999 to 2011. He represents the largest regional federation (25%) within the Spanish Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives (today Agri-food Cooperatives Spain), of which he was Vice-president.

He has been the general manager of Dcoop (Grupo Hojiblanca until 2013) since inception, Spain's largest multi-sector cooperative. When the former Oleicola Hojiblanca de Málaga was founded in 1987, revenues totaled 6 million euros and it comprised 13 cooperatives in northern Málaga province; by 2014, revenues amounted to 750 million euros and there were 170 member cooperatives.

With a view to increasing integration by cooperatives in general and in the olive sector in particular, he promoted the creation of strong sales groups, and was president of CECASA (Compañía Española de Comercialización de Aceites S.A.), which comprises industrial olive oil mills, cooperatives and financial institutions, and which is inactive today due a ban by Spain's competition authorities but which, after a lawsuit lasting several years, CECASA has won.

He chaired the Olive Oil Sector Council, part of the Spanish Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives, with the result that he was actively involved in claims by the Spanish olive-producing sector during the proposal to create a common organization of agricultural markets (COM) in 1998, and he coordinated the Olive Oil Round Table. His involvement in defending Andalusian olive producers' rights vis-à-vis the European Union began in 1986, when he was elected as a member of COPA-COGECA (Committee of Professional Agricultural Organisations-General Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives), a European Union advisory body, through which he chaired the Olive Oil Working Group for a four-year period. He was also a member of the European Union's Olive Oil Advisory Group, and of the International Olive Council's Advisory Committee, representing producers.

He was president of the Olive Producers' Heritage Foundation, of which he is now a member; he was a director of the Olive Oil Futures Market and Cajamar and is currently a director of Banco de Crédito Cooperativo and a member of the University of Málaga's Social Council. He is also part of the editorial board of the magazine Andalucía Económica.

Luque prefers direct contact with farmers and stockbreeders, to hear their opinions directly, and to share his with them. His desire for integration drives his belief that if he attended more cooperative assemblies, there would be much more unification, since the problem of inaction lies not in personalism but, rather, in localism.

This firm belief is his main response to the question many people around him ask: why continue in this complicated environment when he could have had a less stressful, and better paid, experience at other companies? He showed his softer side when he became emotional in public while defending cooperatives and their members. He is indubitably Spain's leading oil figure and an opinion leader, which may make him a few enemies, among other reasons because he says what he thinks, but he is always well respected.

On a personal note, he is married and has three children and he enjoys hunting, walks on the farm, and social gatherings.

Luque is a family man through and through, and he never forgets where he came from. In his office there are two photos from the 1920s of his two grandfathers, owners of an olive oil mill.

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30/10/2017