Spain’s huge olive oil fair, Expoliva, hopes to again attract more than 40,000 visitors this year, despite the dismal prices and low morale plaguing the country’s olive oil producers.
The 15th International Fair of Olive Oil and Allied Industries – which claims to be the world’s biggest in the sector – will run from May 11 – 14 in the capital of olive oil production, Jaén, in southern Spain.
More than 300 companies – at least 20 from other countries including Argentina, Germany, Italy, Portugal, the U.S., and Tunisia – have already signed up as exhibitors. Luis Carlos García, president of Jaén Fairs, admits the problems besetting the industry have seen “some companies who have exhibited in past years pull out, but some new ones have shown interest.”
About 45,000 people – 1,000 from outside Spain – registered for the last Expoliva. Held in 2009, it spanned 30,000 square meters spread over four pavilions. Organizers say they have already achieved more than 90 percent occupancy for this year and, thanks to ten new foreign participants, a 15 percent increase in the number of international stands.
Among those new exhibitors is North American Agro-Investments, which provides investor advice in the U.S. olive oil sector. Its president, Xavier Marques, told Expoliva the company’s aim was to encourage Spanish companies to diversify with investment in olive groves in the U.S., “the second biggest market for olive oil consumption.”
Expoliva actually comprises three events in one: an extra virgin olive oil exhibition, a leading science and technology symposium, and the fair, which itself includes a machinery trade show covering all facets of the olive oil production chain, and gastronomy promotions.
Pieralisi group, which has participated in Expoliva since its first edition, will show in its booth a representation of its new waterless vertical centrifuge.
The gastronomy presentations will highlight olive oil’s role in the Mediterranean diet, which was last year inscribed in UNESCO’S list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Local gourmet products will also be showcased under the banner ‘Sabores de Jaén’ (The Flavors of Jaén).
Organizers stress that the expo is also intended to be a venue for doing some serious business. This year, to help bring together buyers and sellers, attendees can request an appointment with an exhibitor of interest simply by filling in a form on the expo website.
Key themes at Expoliva 2011 will be olive oil’s health benefits, environmental issues and best practices for the sector.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition (Salón del Aceite de Oliva)
About 140 EVOOs, spanning five continents, have been entered in this competition, which was introduced only a few years ago in recognition of the increasingly key role of premium oil in Spain’s export market. First and second prizes will be awarded during the show in each of the following three categories: Green fruity bitter/pungent oils, medium green fruity bitter/pungent oils, and fruity ripe/sweet oils.
Science & Technology Symposium
A record number of submissions – 166 – has been received for this year’s five forums:
Environment: covering sustainable development, mechanization, production methods (traditional, intensive and super-intensive production), and climate change.
Industry, Technology and Quality: new technologies for processing olive oil, quality conservation, biomass and biofuels, process automation and optimization, etc.
Economic and Social: marketing strategies, international trade, business management, the knowledge-based economy.
Food and Health: new evidence of olive oil’s health benefits and gastronomic qualities, and recent applications in cosmetics.
Olive Oil Culture: promotion of olive oil culture and how to represent related lifestyles in museum and other such settings.
Garcia said that apart from being an important venue for doing business, one of Expoliva’s fundamental roles was to promote innovation and research in the olive oil industry.