`Health and Sustainability in the Spotlight at 3rd Yale Symposium - Olive Oil Times

Health and Sustainability in the Spotlight at 3rd Yale Symposium

Feb. 16, 2022
Ylenia Granitto

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Researchers, sci­en­tists, indus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives and exec­u­tives from sev­eral orga­ni­za­tions gath­ered in Jaén, Spain, for the Third International Yale Symposium on Olive Oil and Health late last year.

Held in con­junc­tion with the Fourth International Congress on Olive Oil, Olive Groves and Health, the event aimed at high­light­ing and pro­mot­ing the role of olive tree cul­ti­va­tion in plan­e­tary health and the impact of olive oil’s health ben­e­fits.

We are now becom­ing more aware that we have done a lot of dam­age on this planet, and the olive tree is a true resource that can be used to start revers­ing this.- Tassos C. Kyriakides, co-chair­man, International Yale Synposium

It has been an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence, which brought together lead­ing pro­fes­sion­als of the sec­tor from sev­eral coun­tries,” Tassos C. Kyriakides, the co-chair­man of the orga­niz­ing com­mit­tee from the Yale School of Public Health, told Olive Oil Times.

Besides high­light­ing the impor­tance of incor­po­rat­ing extra vir­gin olive oil in our daily lives, the event focused on plan­e­tary health, cir­cu­lar econ­omy, bio-econ­omy and sus­tain­abil­ity of agri­cul­ture, giv­ing rise to stim­u­lat­ing debates and seek­ing answers on the most press­ing chal­lenges today,” he added.

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Tassos C. Kyriakides

Emphasizing the crit­i­cal role of extra vir­gin olive oil as a fun­da­men­tal food in human nutri­tion, the sym­po­sium pro­vided an exten­sive dis­cus­sion on the lat­est research results.

Among the many top­ics exam­ined in the health and dis­ease sec­tion, the dis­cus­sion of olive oil’s phe­no­lic com­pounds, their syn­er­gis­tic inter­ac­tion and their impact on the human body stirred up par­tic­u­lar inter­est.

We dis­cussed how the olive tree and its prod­ucts give more than health,” Kyriakides said. In addi­tion to being ben­e­fi­cial for us as human beings, they also ben­e­fit our planet.”

In the plan­e­tary health and sus­tain­abil­ity sec­tion of the sym­po­sium, pre­sen­ta­tions focused on the envi­ron­ment and cli­mate change, with experts empha­siz­ing how the olive sec­tor offers a unique oppor­tu­nity to explore the cir­cu­lar econ­omy con­cepts within the realm of bio-econ­omy.

Several stud­ies were pre­sented that high­lighted the role of sus­tain­able olive grove man­age­ment in reduc­ing green­house gas emis­sions, thus con­tribut­ing to the reduc­tion of adverse effects on cli­mate and heat.

Examples of pro­grams that pro­mote the increase of bio­di­ver­sity in the olive groves were also pre­sented.

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We are now becom­ing more aware that we have done a lot of dam­age on this planet, and the olive tree is a true resource that can be used to start revers­ing this,” Kyriakides said. I think that, espe­cially after hav­ing gone through two years of this pan­demic, we have to restart and reset. Let us also say to go back to basic envi­ron­men­tally-friendly and sus­tain­able ideas and con­cepts.”

While it was clearly pre­sented that the Covid-19 pan­demic has pro­vided an oppor­tu­nity for the olive oil sec­tor across mar­kets because con­sumers have exper­i­mented more at home with olive oil, the sym­po­sium also high­lighted some chal­lenges that sec­tor oper­a­tors should address at an inter­na­tional level:

  • The global avail­abil­ity of a larger vari­ety of high-qual­ity oils;
  • The cre­ation of value among young peo­ple; focused work with chefs, who, as opin­ion lead­ers, influ­encers and front-line links, can teach and trans­mit directly to the con­sumer;
  • The cre­ation of con­fi­dence in the olive oil chain’s agents and in prod­uct label­ing;
  • An increase in con­sumer knowl­edge and exper­tise in para­me­ters such as the def­i­n­i­tion of qual­ity oils and their dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion from oils of lower qual­ity;
  • The intro­duc­tion of oil in con­sumers’ daily lives through recipes and other uses.

These con­clu­sions were reached dur­ing the mar­ket­ing sec­tion of the sym­po­sium, in which the speak­ers pre­sented and dis­cussed con­sumer trend reports and suc­cess­ful olive oil mar­ket­ing and prod­uct pro­mo­tion efforts from around the world.

The sym­po­sium atten­dees were reminded that con­sumers buy prod­ucts mainly because of the pos­i­tive attrib­utes to human well­be­ing they can gen­er­ate and pro­vide. In the case of olive oil, the pre­sen­ta­tions under­scored that there are great oppor­tu­ni­ties since olive tree prod­ucts are already con­sid­ered a source of well­ness.

In pro­vid­ing sum­ma­rized insights, the sym­po­sium pointed to the fact that the pos­i­tive health effects of olive oils have been the deter­min­ing fac­tors for the increase in world­wide demand over the last three decades, dur­ing which con­sump­tion has dou­bled (from 1.5 mil­lion to more than three mil­lion tons),” Kyriakides said.

However, it was noted that both cur­rently and going for­ward, fac­tors such as the pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion and impact of olive oil on sus­tain­abil­ity, cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion and bio­di­ver­sity will be key to the con­tin­ued devel­op­ment of global demand,” he added.

The symposium’s orga­niz­ers con­cluded that the exist­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive work between the human and plan­e­tary health dimen­sions of the olive grove can serve as an impe­tus for a broader and more impact­ful syn­ergy between the two.

They added that this syn­ergy should embrace research, edu­ca­tion and engage­ment of the whole spec­trum of olive sec­tor com­mu­ni­ties and stake­hold­ers.

This sym­po­sium has sig­naled a call to action to estab­lish clear and spe­cific objec­tives with impact­ful and assess­able out­comes and results,” Kyriakides said. Health, both human and plan­e­tary, have always been inter­twined and the path for­ward should facil­i­tate and strengthen their syn­ergy toward the max­i­mum mutual ben­e­fit.”

The Fourth International Yale Symposium on Olive Oil and Health, co-orga­nized by the University of Roma Tor Vergata and the University of Bari Aldo Moro, will take place in Rome in early December 2022.


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