`Trade Group Highlights Sustainability at Manhattan Tasting Event - Olive Oil Times

Trade Group Highlights Sustainability at Manhattan Tasting Event

By Daniel Dawson
Jun. 28, 2023 12:14 UTC

The sus­tain­abil­ity of olive farm­ing and olive oil pro­duc­tion took cen­ter stage Saturday at a tast­ing show­case in the land­mark Grand Central Terminal in mid­town Manhattan hosted by the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA).

About 50 olive oil buy­ers, bro­kers, chefs and media attended the event, along with 18 pro­duc­ers from around the world.

Our pri­mary goal was to tell olive oil’s sus­tain­abil­ity story to the invited buy­ers, bro­kers and chefs, and, through the invited media, to con­sumers, all of whose pur­chas­ing deci­sions might be swayed when they hear it.- Joseph R. Profaci, exec­u­tive direc­tor, NAOOA

I’ve been attend­ing the Fancy Food Show [a spe­cialty food event] for many years, but I always thought it would be great if we had a show just for olive oils,” NAOOA exec­u­tive direc­tor Joseph R. Profaci told Olive Oil Times. Getting peo­ple together to taste olive oils is always a fun thing.”

Profaci said that NAOOA hosted a sim­i­lar event before the onset of the Covid-19 pan­demic, which was well received. At that event, the NAOOA and par­tic­i­pants raised money for dia­betes research.


NAOOA executive director Joseph R. Profaci

This year, instead of fundrais­ing, we decided to give our cap­tive audi­ence a pre­sen­ta­tion on sus­tain­abil­ity which is, of course, a hot topic in gen­eral, but not one that is often talked about when it comes to cook­ing oils,” he said.

See Also:Study Sheds Light on Environmental Impact of Global Food Production

While the NAOOA fre­quently pub­lishes edu­ca­tional mate­r­ial con­trast­ing the organolep­tic and health qual­i­ties of olive oils com­pared to other edi­ble oils, Profaci took the oppor­tu­nity to share research demon­strat­ing why olive oil is the green­est’ choice among edi­ble oils.


Sampling olive oils at Vanderbilt Hall, Grand Central Terminal, June 24, 2023

The head­line fact sur­round­ing olive oil sus­tain­abil­ity usu­ally cites the aver­age amount of car­bon diox­ide sequestered per kilo­gram of oil pro­duced.

Profaci cited research from Juan Vilar Strategic Consultants, which found that olive oil pro­duc­tion sequesters 11 kilo­grams of car­bon diox­ide per kilo­gram of oil pro­duced. By com­par­i­son, the car­bon cap­ture rates of corn oil (9.8), sun­flower oil (9), avo­cado oil (7.5), canola oil (4.5) and soy­bean oil (2.77) are lower.

However, research con­ducted in 2021 by the University of Jaén, Spain, found that not all groves sequester car­bon equally. Those researchers said tra­di­tional rain­fed olive groves sequester an esti­mated 5.5 kilo­grams of car­bon diox­ide for each kilo­gram of olive oil pro­duced. This fig­ure falls to 4.3 in irri­gated olive groves and 2.7 in super-high-den­sity groves.


Representatives from Tierra Callada

With supe­rior car­bon stor­age capac­ity, olive groves sequester car­bon in the soil for longer since they are a per­ma­nent crop, while many other edi­ble oils are annual crops. When annual crops are burned or removed to plant the next year’s crop, sequestered car­bon leaves the soil with them.

In his pre­sen­ta­tion, Profaci also pointed out that per­ma­nent crops help pre­vent ero­sion and allow for greater bio­di­ver­sity on agri­cul­tural land than annual crops. Specifically, olive trees require sig­nif­i­cantly less water to grow than other edi­ble oil crops and con­serve soil min­er­als.

Besides farm­ing, Profaci’s pre­sen­ta­tion high­lighted that olive oil milling is more energy effi­cient than most oilseed pro­duc­tion.

Most edi­ble oils are pro­duced chem­i­cally using pow­er­ful sol­vents, usu­ally made from petro­leum byprod­ucts and require energy-inten­sive high heat to sep­a­rate the oil from plant mat­ter.

Olive oil pro­duc­tion, on the other hand, is done mechan­i­cally. In the case of vir­gin or extra vir­gin olive oil, no heat is used dur­ing the process. Furthermore, many mills can be pow­ered using renew­able energy, such as turn­ing waste prod­ucts into bio­fuel or solar energy.

Profaci said the NAOOA decided to focus on sus­tain­abil­ity at the event to empha­size to pro­duc­ers and sell­ers that olive oil is the envi­ron­men­tally-friendly option among edi­ble oils.


Representatives from Manfredi Barbera

When [the United States Food and Drug Administration] pro­posed its update on the reg­u­la­tions over the use of the word healthy,’ they fol­lowed what I have been say­ing all along: to deter­mine what’s healthy’ you must first look to the food group as a point of ref­er­ence,” he said.

Well, the same is true if you are look­ing at what’s healthy for the planet,” Profaci added. Just as dif­fer­ent pro­teins may have dif­fer­ent car­bon foot­prints and over­all envi­ron­men­tal impact due to the way they are pro­duced, for exam­ple, the same is true of cook­ing oils, and peo­ple need to be aware of the dif­fer­ences.”

While olive oil sus­tain­abil­ity took cen­ter stage, Profaci pointed out it was a trade event, so another focus was busi­ness. It pro­vides a venue for our mem­bers to tell their unique sto­ries and sell some prod­uct.”

But since it was a trade show­case, our pri­mary goal was to tell olive oil’s sus­tain­abil­ity story to the invited buy­ers, bro­kers and chefs, and, through the invited media, to con­sumers, all of whose pur­chas­ing deci­sions might be swayed when they hear it,” he added.

With Saturday’s event in the rearview mir­ror, Profaci is gath­er­ing feed­back and look­ing ahead to next year’s event.


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