`Q&A with Spain's Olive Oil Interprofessional Director Teresa Pérez

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Q&A with Spain's Olive Oil Interprofessional Director Teresa Pérez

Jun. 4, 2011
Julie Butler

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This year’s Beyond Extra Vir­gin Inter­na­tional Con­gress, which starts Wednes­day in Cór­doba, is being orga­nized by Spain’s Inter­pro­fe­sional del Aceite de Oliva Español. The Inter­pro­fes­sional is a non-profit offi­cial orga­ni­za­tion which rep­re­sents all mem­bers of Spain’s olive oil sec­tor. Here its direc­tor, Teresa Pérez, talks about the impor­tance of the con­gress and what to expect.

What is dif­fer­ent about Beyond Extra Vir­gin this year?

Above all we’re talk­ing about a more ambi­tious con­gress. Not only will there be more pre­sen­ters and speak­ers than at pre­vi­ous edi­tions, they’ll be com­ing from more coun­tries. And in terms of new aspects, I should also high­light that the Mediter­ranean diet will also play a big role at this Con­gress. That’s nat­ural given that it was inscribed in UNESCO’S list of Intan­gi­ble Cul­tural Her­itage last year. As for other things, obvi­ously there is the focus on extremely high qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil, its pro­duc­tion, its mar­ket posi­tion­ing and culi­nary uses. Spain will share some of its inno­va­tions in this field.

What prompted the Inter­pro­fes­sional to orga­nize Beyond Extra Vir­gin in 2011?

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In 2009, the Inter­pro­fes­sional was rep­re­sented in the edi­tion held in Cal­i­for­nia, which was the first to have a real inter­na­tional fla­vor. Last year, in Verona, the Span­ish con­tin­gent played a promi­nent role. After that we got involved in a major way in this event, tak­ing on its orga­ni­za­tion for 2011.

What kind of peo­ple do you expect to attend?

Peo­ple from a vari­ety of back­grounds will be get­ting together in Cór­doba. Of course the pro­duc­tion sec­tor will be well-rep­re­sented, after all, it is the dri­ver of qual­ity. Thanks to its par­tic­i­pa­tion, we’ll be able to take a close look at the con­sid­er­able expe­ri­ence of pro­duc­ers not only from var­i­ous regions of Spain but from other coun­tries. Also, tech­ni­cal experts will help us learn more about the char­ac­ter­is­tics of pre­mium oils, and sci­en­tists, par­tic­i­pat­ing as pre­sen­ters and in panel dis­cus­sions, will serve as a bridge between projects in the lab and in the field, and pro­duc­ers’ needs .

Peo­ple from the world of cui­sine will also play a big role. Inter­na­tion­ally renowned chefs will demon­strate how these olive oils are an impor­tant source of added value in the realm of gas­tron­omy. And also par­tic­i­pat­ing will be orga­ni­za­tions and author­i­ties that have been impor­tant sup­port­ers of the empha­sis on qual­ity, which is so impor­tant for the olive oil sec­tor world­wide.

What are some of the chal­lenges fac­ing the sec­tor?

In terms of this con­fer­ence, the big chal­lenge is to enhance the pres­tige and value of excel­lence in pro­duc­tion and in these extra vir­gin olive oils them­selves. All in all, our goal is to trans­mit to con­sumers EVOO’s vast ben­e­fits – in terms of nutri­tion, health and taste – while offer­ing them an extremely high qual­ity prod­uct.

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