UC Davis Event to Focus on Premium Olive Oil

The event will feature speakers from different parts of the industry in order to give producers an idea of where this part of the sector has come from and where it is heading.

TJ Ushing/UC Davis
By Daniel Dawson
Sep. 25, 2018 09:04 UTC
TJ Ushing/UC Davis

Olive oil importers, pro­duc­ers and chefs, among oth­ers, will gather next month at the Robert Mondavi Institute to dis­cuss the chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties fac­ing the high end of the extra vir­gin olive oil sec­tor.

Most pro­duc­ers adhere to the myth that if you have an excel­lent prod­uct it will sell itself. This is so far from the truth.- Karen Bond, Bondolio

This event is not just about extra vir­gin that reaches the min­i­mum stan­dard, but about the best olive oils out there,” Dan Flynn, the direc­tor of the UC Davis Olive Center and one of the speak­ers at the event, told Olive Oil Times. It’s about the fla­vors, oppor­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges that con­sumers and pro­duc­ers are fac­ing in access­ing that oil.”

The idea for the event came out of some dis­cus­sions that Jean-Xavier Guinard, a pro­fes­sor of food sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy at UC Davis, had with Paolo Pasquali, the owner of Oleoteca Villa Campestri.

UC Davis had hosted sim­i­lar events in the past but had not done so in 10 years. The pair envi­sioned this event as an update on what is going on with pre­mium olive oil.

All my efforts in the olive oil world, are [aimed at] cre­at­ing strate­gies and instru­ments to take olive oil from cost to profit,” Pasquali told Olive Oil Times. He will give the keynote pre­sen­ta­tion at the event and dis­cuss how his olive oil-cen­tric resort in Italy turns all of the costs of pro­duc­ing high-qual­ity olive oil into profit.

My speech will be about the his­tory of Oleoteca Villa Campestri,” he said. Producers will love the sys­tem [and] at the same time they will be encour­aged to reach the high­est stan­dard in olive oil pro­duc­tion.”

Pasquali said that he is also look­ing for­ward to meet­ing poten­tial investors in California.

Guinard will be pre­sent­ing his find­ings from a recent study at the event, which looked at a vari­ety of recipes that were pre­pared both with olive oil and with but­ter. Guinard, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Culinary Institute of America then did a con­sumer test on which of these recipe vari­a­tions con­sumers pre­ferred.

The upshot was that, depend­ing on the prepa­ra­tion, con­sumers some­times pre­ferred but­ter and some­times olive oil,” Flynn said. It will be pretty inter­est­ing for this audi­ence to hear about those results.”

One of the over­ar­ch­ing themes of the event will be talk­ing about mar­ket­ing and sell­ing high qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oils, so as to make pro­duc­ing these oils worth the time and effort. On that front, Karen Bond, the co-owner of Bondolio, will dis­cuss how her com­pany has been able to do just that.

I will be speak­ing about all the steps a pro­ducer needs to take to get their extra vir­gin olive oil onto retail shelves as well as food ser­vice,” she told Olive Oil Times. Most pro­duc­ers adhere to the myth that if you have an excel­lent prod­uct it will sell itself. This is so far from the truth. There is a method­i­cal process to suc­cess­fully sell­ing oil.”

If steps are missed, the chances are higher that you will not sell your oil and will have left­over oil by your next har­vest,” she added. I hope to teach pro­duc­ers this sim­ple process.”

Darrell Corti, an olive oil retailer in San Francisco, is sched­uled to dis­cuss the evo­lu­tion of con­sumer aware­ness of olive oil. He will be fol­lowed by Richard Armanino, an importer for ItalFoods, who will talk about the chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties of import­ing olive oil.

Greg Drescher, the vice pres­i­dent of strate­gic ini­tia­tives and indus­try lead­er­ship at the Culinary Institute of America, will then talk about how pro­duc­ers can max­i­mize the shelf space avail­able for their prod­ucts as well as give some per­spec­tive from the hos­pi­tal­ity indus­try point of view.

Greg was out there from the begin­ning in push­ing this whole focus on pre­mium extra vir­gin olive oil,” Flynn said. It will be inter­est­ing to see how he is view­ing it from a broad culi­nary per­spec­tive, deal­ing with shelf space, fine din­ing and the whole hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor.”


The day will end with a con­ver­sa­tion about how pro­duc­ers can process this infor­ma­tion and how the indus­try can con­tinue to move the pre­mium end of the extra vir­gin olive oil sec­tor for­ward.

My sense is that what we will get out oil this is a reflec­tion of how this indus­try has evolved over the past 10 years, in terms of the higher end of the qual­ity spec­trum and exam­in­ing the chal­lenges that remain for pro­duc­ers,” Flynn said.

The Olive Oil Day will take place on October 12 at the Robert Mondavi Institute in Davis, California. Admission is $50 and the last day to reg­is­ter online is October 5.


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