The trend of the olive sector in Europe is decreasing, the quantities are progressively decreasing and this is bad just as the world consumption of Evo, the extra virgin olive oil, is growing everywhere, especially Asia, Australia, Brazil and, in Europe, in Germany, France and Benelux.
The alarm was raised during the International Week of Evo Oil organized in Rome between 12 and 15 September last by Unaprol, the association of oil producers headed by Coldiretti, by the representative of the Agriculture and Rural Development DG of the EU, Koen Dillen.
European producers, which means Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal – he explained – must do more to intercept this growth in demand. On pain of marginalization of European productions. Also because from the United States, to Australia, to South America, olive production begins to grow. And the countries of North Africa already have double-digit growth rates.
According to Dillen, the EU has made € 40 billion available to support new investments in agriculture to make it more sustainable and able to counteract the effects of climate change. But the individual markets have to play their part. Then, who is worse off is Italy which has average Evo prices higher than other producers, namely Spain, Greece, Portugal and France.
But is this really the way to go: lower prices? The answer is no. Or rather, it depends. If you want to compete with large intensive olive growing, perhaps yes, but it is still all to be seen and perhaps the final answer can be – and probably will be, quite the opposite. For small producers, the high-quality EVO is immediately a No.
The “trick” is in the numbers, which are large averages. Professor Adinolfi, from the University of Bologna, has in fact shown a graph in which the minimum and maximum prices are also highlighted. The two most expensive oils in the world are a Greek and a Japanese. Not even the shadow of Italians. Indeed, the statistics show that in Italy, the only Mediterranean producer, the cultivated hectares are decreasing. Will it also depend on the fact that 75% of the Italian Evo is distributed through large-scale distribution? And only the law of the lowest price applies there.
What to do then? The answer is to focus on quality, innovation and transparency. It emerges that in Italy not enough work is done to make it clear that the Italian Evo, especially that of the PDO and PGI, is not the same thing as a “European Evo” or an “Italian Evo” because there is any oil inside that was produced in Europe and Italy respectively.
In this way, local productions are not valued, which means not a vague parochialism but that these are products of a short supply chain from production to the bottle. And that the presence of defined and characteristic cultivars, as well as the quality of cultivation and milling, give rise to an age that has, indeed, which must necessarily have superior organoleptic qualities. And here innovation and transparency come into play.
The president of Unaprol, David Granieri, said that efforts must be made to obtain information on the label for the consumer to guide purchasing decisions. And we must act quickly because, with the forecasts of a lower 2022 campaign, there will be negative effects. In particular, Spain should produce between 30 and 40% less, but it will take advantage of this to put hundreds of thousands of tons of old, low-quality oil stocks on the market and drive prices down even more.
In the world, explained Granieri, the sale of quality Evo has grown by 25%, while in Italy it has dropped by 8% in quantity. Although fortunately in terms of value, the level remained the same as the year before. A sign that our “higher” prices are starting to work.
But be careful: we have not sold less because we have raised prices but because while we lose buyers in the low consumption bands, and that’s okay, we don’t buy them fast enough in the higher ones. This is where we need to work. Granieri said: «It is absurd that in the USA there is“ drug ”oil and in the EU and in Italy there is no. Yet we are the ones who could be the most qualified to grow in this new market ».
And here the two nutritionists who took part come into play, Sara Farnetti, specialist in medical functional nutrition, and Laura Di Renzo, director of the School of Specialization in Nutrition Science in Rome II – Tor Vergata.CopyAMP code.
Both said, in essence, that the Evo is nutraceutical. That you have to fry with the EVO because its smoke level is at 200 degrees and the chips are fried at 170, therefore below, and is therefore healthier than seed oils. That continued use of Evo prevents diabetes, alzheimer’s and cancer, obesity and cholesterol; because it supports and develops the macrobiota (the ecosystem of our intestine) and helps to counteract the “metabolic syndromes” that are the basis of all those diseases.
It is therefore necessary to trigger a cultural revolution that primarily concerns eating habits because if other living conditions have led to the lengthening of the average age, now it is necessary to ensure that these extra years are healthy. The watchword is “healthy longevity”.
But it is not just any Evo that can do all this, only the quality Evo. That must also make its way into a new market, that of food supplements. And Evo is a natural food supplement.
But how is it done? Laura di Rienzo explains: «There are three quality markers that identify the Evo as the bearer of these healthy characteristics. The most important of these is oleocanthal which has anti-inflammatory qualities equal to those of ibuprofen and which is responsible for the “bite in the throat” when some qualities of oil are ingested. Finally, it also has effects against obesity ».
According to Di Renzo, these Evo polyphenolic compositions can also be put on the label according to the EU and would thus exceed all the limits of European traffic lights and classifications that penalize us today on many foreign markets. But it is clear that not all ages can aspire to this. The local ones, with well-regulated quality and cultivars, controlled and subjected to verifications, however, yes.
Lastly spoke Beatrice Ughi, an Italian living in New York (former auditor) who founded and directs the site Gustiamo.com, with which she imports and distributes excellent made in Italy food products in the USA. Go visit the site and see how much the oil it sells costs (and swears it sells it, even at $ 40 for a half-liter bottle).
In conclusion: it emerged that Italian producers are not aware of what treasure they have in their hands.
However, they must learn to understand the qualities of their product well, and then learn how to explain it to consumers. They must carry out food and cultural training activities on the use of Evo oil. They must find a way to label information that is not limited only to the brand and place. But, for example, saying on the label which cultivars there are: this is how differentiation from competitors is created and at the same time the territory is promoted.
It is the reversal of the marketing lines used up to now. For example, an oil is not characterized because it is an Umbrian PDO, to name one: 90% of world consumers know what Italy is but would struggle to find it on a map, let alone with Umbria). But it is Umbria that is characterized by the product: it is the territory where this very high quality oil grows and is produced.