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Fourth Olive Oil Conference Coming to Chicago Area

Producers, importers and retailers will gather to hear from speakers discussing a wide range of topics, from olive oil health and nutrition to strengthening quality controls and standards.

May. 17, 2018
By Daniel Dawson

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Domes­tic olive oil pro­duc­ers, importers and retail­ers will gather in the north­west­ern Chicago sub­urb of Rose­mont, Illi­nois this July for the fourth annual Olive Oil Con­fer­ence.

The two-day event, which is co-hosted by the North Amer­i­can Olive Oil Asso­ci­a­tion (NAOOA) and Inter­na­tional Extra Vir­gin Olive Oil Savantes, will cover an array of top­ics by a diverse panel of speak­ers. How­ever, a key focus of the event will be about nutri­tion and health.

What I really look for­ward to is see­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives from diverse sec­tors coa­lesce around com­mon objec­tives and inter­ests,” NAOOA exec­u­tive direc­tor Joseph Pro­faci said. This year, with an entire day ded­i­cated to health and nutri­tion, we hope to attract more dieti­cians and nutri­tion­ists as well.”

The sec­ond day of the con­fer­ence will focus on health and nutri­tion. The day’s pro­gram will include a com­mem­o­ra­tion of the twenty-fifth anniver­sary of the Mediter­ranean Diet Pyra­mid, a pro­posal to repeat a Span­ish study regard­ing the health ben­e­fits of the Mediter­ranean diet on car­dio­vas­cu­lar health and two pre­sen­ta­tions on polyphe­nols.

This approach is all about mar­ry­ing sci­ence and prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tion,” Pro­faci said. The first lec­ture is about the sci­ence of polyphe­nols, and the sec­ond pre­sen­ta­tion is geared to under­stand­ing how the polyphe­nols in extra vir­gin olive oil can prac­ti­cally be bet­ter inte­grated into the typ­i­cal Amer­i­can diet.”

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We will fol­low on those pre­sen­ta­tions with the chal­lenges of com­mu­ni­cat­ing health mes­sages, such as the health ben­e­fits of polyphe­nols, to Amer­i­can con­sumers,” he added.

Frank Sacks of the Har­vard School of Pub­lic Health will be dis­cussing the pro­posal to repeat a Span­ish study which found that replac­ing five per­cent of sat­u­rated fat calo­ries with an equal num­ber of calo­ries from monoun­sat­u­rated and polyun­sat­u­rated fats reduced the risk of heart dis­ease by 15 to 25 per­cent, respec­tively. Olive oil is rich in both monoun­sat­u­rates and polyun­sat­u­rates.

“[It] is pretty straight­for­ward: con­sume few sat­u­rated fats like but­ter, full-fat dairy, beef and pork fat, and coconut, palm and palm ker­nel oils and replace them with nat­ural veg­etable oils high in polyun­sat­u­rates,” Sacks told the New York Times ear­lier this year.

The first day of the con­fer­ence will focus on the state of the olive oil indus­try in terms of dis­tri­b­u­tion, sup­ply and demand; Amer­i­can eat­ing habits and con­sumer atti­tudes toward olive oil; and strength­en­ing qual­ity con­trols, includ­ing a lec­ture on deter­min­ing best-by dates from Dan Flynn, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the UC Davis Olive Cen­ter.

Flynn said that he had not pre­vi­ously attended the con­fer­ence and looks for­ward to net­work­ing with new and famil­iar faces from the sec­tor. With his pre­sen­ta­tion, he hopes to edu­cate con­sumers and pro­duc­ers about the ben­e­fits of fresh oil.

The dates may help con­sumers be more aware of the value of olive oil fresh­ness, and it may inspire pro­duc­ers to adopt prac­tices that will extend the shelf life of their oils,” he said.

Pier­luigi Tosato, the CEO of Deoleo, SA will also speak on the first day about what he believes is a much-needed rev­o­lu­tion in sup­ply, dis­tri­b­u­tion and demand for olive oil. At a recent break­fast with the Span­ish press, Tosato dis­cussed these top­ics.

The future of the olive oil sec­tor comes through qual­ity and needs a pro­found trans­for­ma­tion in its entire value chain,” he told Span­ish reporters. It is [cur­rently] anchored in a vicious cir­cle, which we must reverse, turn­ing it into a vir­tu­ous cir­cle.”

The first day will con­clude with an olive oil tast­ing refresher led by Simon Fields.

Pro­faci said he believes the diver­sity of these sub­jects com­bined with the exper­tise of the pre­sen­ters will make this year’s con­fer­ence stand out. With the high level of inter­est in olive oil in the U.S., he said he expects a turn out of at least 60 to 70 atten­dees.

We built the pro­gram around the impli­ca­tions from the con­sumer atti­tude and usage study recently con­ducted jointly by the NAOOA and Amer­i­can Olive Oil Pro­ducer Asso­ci­a­tion, and there­fore the sub­jects are more cur­rent and per­ti­nent than ever before,” he added.

We are expect­ing a great turnout, as there is some­thing for every­one in the cat­e­gory.”

The con­fer­ence will take place from July 10 to 12. Reg­is­tra­tion for the event is avail­able on the NAOOA web­site. Dis­counted pack­ages are avail­able if pur­chased before May 21.


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