Small Farmers and Producers in Italy Organize to Promote Artisanal Oils

The Italian Federation of Independent Olive Growers seeks to promote the culture of small and medium-sized growers and native olive varieties.
Aug. 4, 2021
Paolo DeAndreis

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Small and medium-sized extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duc­ers have banded together in Italy to form a new fed­er­a­tion focused on pre­serv­ing their cul­ture and native olive cul­ti­vars.

The Italian Federation of Independent Olive Growers (FIOI) founders said that it will be the home for grow­ers and millers con­sid­ered to be olive oil arti­sans.”

We claim the right to exist and to express our iden­tity on the labels and the shelves.- Antonella Titone, vice pres­i­dent, FIOI

The oils from these pro­duc­ers sel­dom reach super­mar­ket shelves, and the pro­duc­ers claim to be under-rep­re­sented in a sec­tor they believe is dom­i­nated by larger com­pa­nies and pro­duc­ers.

See Also: New Efforts to Promote Rare White Olive Variety in Calabria

We are an inde­pen­dent fed­er­a­tion man­aged by the olive grow­ers them­selves; by olive farms that do not have any­thing to share with the world of the olive oil indus­try,” said Paolo Di Gaetano, head of the Tuscany-based Fonte di Foiano and newly elected FIOI pres­i­dent.

We are farm­ers who through our activ­i­ties pre­serve and pro­tect the land by per­son­ally ensur­ing strict mon­i­tor­ing of the whole pro­duc­tion chain,” he added.

The cur­rent dynam­ics of the olive oil mar­ket have proven to be chal­leng­ing for small olive oil pro­duc­ers, the federation’s founders said.

They argue that arti­sanal extra vir­gin olive oil and mass-pro­duced olive oil should be con­sid­ered and eval­u­ated dif­fer­ently, as they are sep­a­rate prod­ucts with their own organolep­tic char­ac­ter­is­tics, sell­ing prices, and cus­tomer bases.

Olive oil arti­sans must dis­tin­guish them­selves from the olive oil com­mod­ity pro­duc­ers, whose prod­uct is sold on the mar­ket at lower prices,” said Antonella Titone, the FIOI vice pres­i­dent who pro­duces olive oil in Sicily. We claim the right to exist and to express our iden­tity on the labels and the shelves.”

According to Pietro Intini, the sec­ond vice pres­i­dent who pro­duces olive oil in Puglia, olive oil arti­sans are scat­tered through­out Italy. He argued that the coun­try is so diverse that the indi­vid­ual geo­graphic and weather con­di­tions that help shape each region’s olive oil should be con­sid­ered.

Italy counts on the widest olive her­itage in the world with more than 580 olive tree cul­ti­vars, a vari­ety of the farm­ing lands and the dif­fer­ent micro-cli­mates, all of which are pre­cious assets that could be lost,” he said.

According to Intini, FIOI aims at safe­guard­ing the his­toric Italian cul­ti­vars, re-dis­cov­er­ing and pro­mot­ing them.”

We respect for­eign olive oil cul­tures but reject the import of agro­nomic and tech­no­log­i­cal mod­els or vari­eties and hybrids that could per­vert our national iden­tity,” he added.

Meanwhile, Caterina Mazzolin, the sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the FIOI, explained that the federation’s goal is to make pro­duc­ers help each other and form a spe­cific mar­ket, pro­jected well beyond our national bor­ders where our high-qual­ity green gold is often more appre­ci­ated.”

This is some­thing that we have seen hap­pen­ing in the wine world, where in the past its added value and quest for qual­ity were pro­pelled by its for­eign cus­tomers,” she added.

We can offer unpar­al­leled qual­ity dec­li­na­tions, a mul­ti­tude of fla­vors and scents,” Intini con­cluded. This is why we want to announce and spread the good news and put Italian olive oil cul­ture at the heart of this research, cul­tural and eco­nomic project.”





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