` Call to Action at NYIOOC: Educate - Olive Oil Times

Call to Action at NYIOOC: Educate

Apr. 10, 2014
Vanessa Stasio

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On the sec­ond day of the New York International Olive Oil Competition, atten­dees were treated to impas­sioned pre­sen­ters who urged them to rec­og­nize edu­ca­tion as a cor­ner­stone for growth and suc­cess in the olive oil indus­try.

America is at Level One”

The day started off with a spark by the name of Steven Jenkins, the inim­itable olive oil and cheese spe­cial­ist for Fairway Market. Jenkins can­didly expressed his con­cern over American con­sumers’ lack of knowl­edge when it comes to pur­chas­ing olive oils. He said indi­vid­u­als in the United States typ­i­cally choose their oils based on the style of the bot­tle and the look of the label, which he called pre­pos­ter­ous.” He empha­sized that con­sumers needed to be aware of the olive oil’s region, sub-region, date of har­vest and cul­ti­var to make informed deci­sions and he pointed out the value of the sig­nage he has crafted for his stores to edu­cate con­sumers.

Jenkins also spoke to the mis­con­cep­tions sur­round­ing what olive oil is actu­ally sup­posed to taste like. Olive oil is not a food; it is a cru­cial ingre­di­ent in your life. The great olive oils of the world are meant to elec­trify the food that you eat. They should be a lit­tle pep­pery or even bit­ter.”

Showing Consumers What Great Olive Oils Taste Like

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Gregg Kelley, pres­i­dent and CEO of California Olive Ranch, led his ses­sion by detail­ing sta­tis­tics on olive oil con­sump­tion in the United States. He noted that American con­sump­tion of olive oil per capita con­sid­er­ably lags behind that of other coun­tries and that it should and could be three times its cur­rent level. Going on to share his company’s secret ingre­di­ents” for tak­ing on chal­lenges, Kelley high­lighted edu­ca­tion as crit­i­cal. We have to intro­duce peo­ple to qual­ity.” He cited advances in the American wine, choco­late and cof­fee indus­tries as illus­tra­tive exam­ples of how edu­ca­tion and qual­ity prod­ucts can help cre­ate demand for spe­cialty, pre­mium ver­sions of goods for which only hum­drum, generic options once existed. Kelley sug­gested action­able ideas for olive oil com­pa­nies to uti­lize to engage poten­tial cus­tomers, includ­ing tast­ing events, work­ing directly with pro­duc­ers and other inter­me­di­aries, and train­ing buy­ers and retail­ers.

Freshness: An Accessible Way for Assessing Quality

Dan Flynn, Director at the UC Davis Olive Center, offered this theme to con­sider when teach­ing proces­sors and con­sumers to under­stand what makes an olive oil high-qual­ity: fresh­ness. He noted that con­sumers buy olive oil for two main rea­sons, fla­vor and health, both which decline with time. Flynn gave expla­na­tions of eval­u­a­tive stan­dards along with qual­ity and authen­tic­ity tests with regard to pro­cess­ing, sen­sory analy­sis and chem­istry pro­file, use­ful to any­one who man­ages olive oil at any point along the sup­ply chain. He pro­vided insights on why these para­me­ters do not always cor­re­late well nor do they nec­es­sar­ily have lin­ear rela­tion­ships with price. He also pro­posed ideas for procur­ing fresher oils con­sid­er­ing these same ele­ments of pro­cess­ing, sen­sory eval­u­a­tion and chem­istry con­sid­er­a­tions.

On the final day of 2014 NYIOOC, atten­dees will have the oppor­tu­nity to expe­ri­ence an exclu­sive tast­ing of olive oils in the run­ning for awards prior to the offi­cial announce­ment of com­pe­ti­tion results by Curtis Cord, pres­i­dent of NYIOOC, International Culinary Center Founder Dorothy Hamilton and Fairway Market’s Steven Jenkins dur­ing a press con­fer­ence that will be broad­cast live.

More infor­ma­tion can be found on the event web­site.

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