Chef Seamus Mullen, President of the Spanish Olive Oil Interprofessional Pedro Barato, Consul General Rafael Conde De Saro and Manager of the Spanish Olive Oil Interprofessional Teresa Pérez at Olive Oils from Spain and the European Union ͞Olive Oil World Tour͟ kick-off event at Cervantes Institute of New York on July 12, 2018. [Photo by Rina Oh]

The Spanish Olive Oil Interprofessional trade asso­ci­a­tion, with the finan­cial sup­port of the European Union this month launched a three-​year, mul­ti­chan­nel cam­paign to pro­mote olive oil as an inte­gral part of the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet).

Over the next three years, we will spread the word about the culi­nary, nutri­tional and health­ful val­ues of a food prod­uct that had its ori­gins in the Mediterranean and which has been con­quer­ing the world for quite some time.- Pedro Barato, Interprofesional Del Aceite De Oliva Español

Under the slo­gan “Let’s Make A Tastier World,” the cam­paign will focus largely on the gas­tro­nomic and health ben­e­fits of “liq­uid gold.” It will be car­ried out in major cities across the con­ti­nen­tal United States — namely Miami, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York — in addi­tion to extend­ing to Asia and other coun­tries in Europe.

“This is one of the most sig­nif­i­cant pro­mo­tional ini­tia­tives to have been under­taken in the olive oil sec­tor in the entire world,” said Pedro Barato, pres­i­dent of the Spanish Olive Oil Interprofessional, at a pro­mo­tional event at the Cervantes Institute in New York City. “Over the next three years, we will spread the word about the culi­nary, nutri­tional and health­ful val­ues of a food prod­uct that had its ori­gins in the Mediterranean and which has been con­quer­ing the world for quite some time.”

The cam­paign will extend across land, sea and air by way of the “Olive Oil Lounge.” With express tast­ings, edu­ca­tional infor­ma­tion, kid-​friendly activ­i­ties and WiFi hotspots, trav­el­ers pass­ing through air­ports, train sta­tions and sea­ports will have unique access to one of Spain’s proud­est exports.

The con­tent will focus on the major vari­etals of Spanish olive oil (Picual, Hojiblanca, Arbequina and Cornicabra), as well as the qual­ity stan­dards dic­tated by the EU con­cern­ing its safety, san­i­tary mea­sures, label­ing and nutri­tional guide­lines.

“When the time came for us to con­sider the phi­los­o­phy of this cam­paign, we made an in-​depth analy­sis of who this should reach and how to get to that per­son,” explained Barato, “and we came to the con­clu­sion that peo­ple who travel have a spe­cial aware­ness for try­ing new expe­ri­ences — also in their cui­sine. This is why we have focused our strat­egy on cen­ters in this coun­try with high con­cen­tra­tions of trav­el­ers.”

The United States became Spain’s sec­ond largest cus­tomer in 2017, rep­re­sent­ing over 11% of the country’s exports. And on a global scale, the U.S. ranks third in con­sump­tion at slightly over 300,000 tons per year. However, as Barato explained, con­sump­tion is very con­cen­trated on the east and west coasts with a large, untapped ter­ri­tory between still to be won over.

“Per capita con­sump­tion in this coun­try doesn’t even reach 1 kilo per per­son per year, com­pared to the 13 that are con­sumed in Spain,” he said.“This is a huge chal­lenge for us.”

Currently, Spain pro­duces half of the olive oil in the world, with more than six mil­lion acres of olive groves and 340 mil­lion olive trees. The coun­try also boasts more than 200 types of olives, each with a dis­tinc­tive aroma and fla­vor pro­file suited to dif­fer­ent food prod­ucts. The hope is that, as the cam­paign increases the use fre­quency of olive oil, Spain will become syn­ony­mous with the prod­uct.

But in order to make a size­able impact in North America, mem­bers of the Spanish Olive Oil Interprofessional knew there had to be a dual focus on fla­vor and nutri­tion, cit­ing North Americans’ desire to eat more health­fully with­out sac­ri­fic­ing gas­tro­nomic plea­sures. In order to do this, they invited chef, cook­book author and well­ness expert Seamus Mullen to join the cam­paign.

Mullen, who spent for­ma­tive years liv­ing and cook­ing in Spain, turned to the MedDiet when faced with what doc­tors repeat­edly told him was an “incur­able” autoim­mune dis­ease. With a renewed empha­sis on healthy fats, veg­eta­bles and whole grains, Mullen was able to slowly reverse all bio­log­i­cal mark­ers of the dis­ease and lauded olive oil as “the glue that runs through all the food I cook.”

“There is a rea­son the sub­ti­tle of [my book] ‘Real Food Heals’ is ‘eat to feel younger and stronger every day,’ as chang­ing the way I cooked save my life,” said Mullen. “We hope you will help spread the word of how you can enjoy a hap­pier and health­ier life by incor­po­rat­ing olive oil into your meal plans.”


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