Producers Honor Dan Flynn for His Contributions to California Olive Oil

The founder of the UC Davis Olive Center received the California Olive Oil Council's Pioneer Award for his "lasting impact on the state's olive oil industry."

Dan Flynn
By Daniel Dawson
May. 18, 2021 07:57 UTC
Dan Flynn

Ahead of his immi­nent retire­ment at the end of June, Dan Flynn, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Olive Center at the University of California, Davis, has received the 2020 Pioneer Award from the California Olive Oil Council (COOC).

Dan Flynn started the orga­ni­za­tion 13 years ago with just $50,000 from uni­ver­sity and indus­try sup­port­ers and grew it into a world-renowned cen­ter for olive research and edu­ca­tion.- Patricia King, exec­u­tive direc­tor, California Olive Oil Council

The COOC Pioneer Award has gone to indi­vid­u­als who have had a last­ing impact on the California olive oil indus­try,” Patricia King, the COOC’s exec­u­tive direc­tor, told Olive Oil Times. The 2020 recip­i­ent has made a last­ing impact.”

Dan Flynn started the (Olive Center) 13 years ago with just $50,000 from uni­ver­sity and indus­try sup­port­ers and grew it into a world-renowned cen­ter for olive research and edu­ca­tion,” she added.

Flynn told Olive Oil Times that he was grate­ful for both the award, which is usu­ally only given to COOC mem­bers, and for the close col­lab­o­ra­tion of the COOC with the Olive Center through­out its 13-year his­tory.

See Also:California Olive Oil Updates

When I first was plan­ning the Olive Center in 2007, they were among the first peo­ple I reached out to and the pres­i­dent of the board at the time, Alan Green, was really help­ful for the plan­ning stage,” he said. I’ve got a lot of grat­i­tude for the COOC and it was a nice ges­ture for them to pro­vide this award.”

In the COOC’s announce­ment of the award, grow­ers and pro­duc­ers shared their grat­i­tude for Flynn’s work.

In part­ner­ship with the indus­try, UC Davis has helped mil­lions of con­sumers under­stand the qual­ity of super­mar­ket olive oil, pro­vided the ana­lyt­i­cal foun­da­tion for California’s strict olive oil stan­dards and edu­cated thou­sands to become bet­ter olive oil grow­ers, proces­sors and tasters,” said Brady Whitlow, the pres­i­dent of Corto Olive, who pre­sented Flynn with the award.

Many grow­ers com­mended Flynn for his involve­ment with and back­ing the center’s land­mark 2010 olive oil qual­ity study, which found that many of the olive oils sold in California super­mar­kets did not meet the stan­dards spec­i­fied on their labels.


Flynn speaking at the 2014 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition

Dan’s deci­sion to under­take and pub­lish the study put California extra vir­gin olive oil on the map, the importers on the defen­sive and cemented his legacy,” Bruce Golina, the pres­i­dent of Santa Cruz Olive Tree Nursery, said.

In the ensu­ing furor, Dan stood by the study, weath­ered the storm, and shep­herded the rais­ing of the bar for extra vir­gin olive oil not only here but also in Europe,” Karen Bond, the pres­i­dent of Bondolio, added. Today, the qual­ity of extra vir­gin olive oil in California is greater than it was in 2008 and con­tin­ues to improve.”

Flynn acknowl­edged the impor­tance of the study, but said his crown­ing achieve­ment at the Olive Center was build­ing a com­pre­hen­sive net­work of aca­d­e­mics and indus­try peo­ple that is not reliant on one sin­gle fig­ure and would con­tinue to oper­ate suc­cess­fully regard­less of who comes and leaves.

We def­i­nitely got a lot of atten­tion for that study, but what I feel are the high­lights of my time with the Olive Center is, num­ber one, that we built a net­work of peo­ple in the uni­ver­sity, not only fac­ulty and stu­dents but con­nected that group of peo­ple with the folks in the indus­try – grow­ers, proces­sors, importers and retail­ers,” he said. That net­work is the secret of the Olive Center’s suc­cess.”

Flynn added that he was also proud of help­ing estab­lish California’s olive oil stan­dards, which he said are among the strictest gov­ern­ment stan­dards in the world.

I also think we edu­cated a lot of peo­ple along the way through our courses with milling and olive oil sen­sory eval­u­a­tion and olive grow­ing,” he said. Our goal was to help peo­ple get bet­ter qual­ity and higher yields and make their oper­a­tion more prof­itable so that they could con­tinue to do that.”

After facil­i­tat­ing the tran­si­tion of Javier Fernandez-Salvador as the new exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Olive Center, Flynn said that we would remain an infor­mal advi­sor to the cen­ter. Still, he plans to spend more time with his fam­ily and under­take new projects.

It’s been 13 years and it felt like the right time to pass the baton to some­body else,” he said. I’m look­ing at var­i­ous things and am excited about being able to open my hori­zons a bit to work in other areas.”


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