“revolutionary” olive oil: a wave of new technologies have introduced innovative methods to make the italian food excellence even more beneficial to the modern diet!
Could we even imagine Mediterranean cuisine without olive oil? Long regarded as one of the healthiest in the world, the Mediterranean diet would not be the same without this crucial ingredient. While the cost of olive oil is slightly higher than other varieties, staples like salads, rice, stew, pasta and much more would lose their distinct flavors, aromas and tastes without it. Any purist will tell you that using corn or soybean oil in hummus, Greek salad, ratatouille or pesto would be a sacrilege! However, olive oil is a fragile ecosystem and depends on innovative solutions to develop new technologies that will sustain and continue growth along the entire production chain, both in food and cosmetic products. The latest knowledge and newest additions to the “FoodTech” field have helped to create the perfect opportunity for Olive Oil 4.0, a sweeping program designed to ensure the sustainability of the product, the industry, and the environment.
The challenge is greater than finding high quality agricultural tools or irrigation programs; instead, the goal is to rethink the entire production chain and find ways to make it a reality. Spain, for example, has developed systems to extract olive oil using ultrasound and grafting which have increased both production and the nutritional quality and antioxidant levels of the olive oil. The end result of these efforts is a more efficient process with a better yield.
In light of these results, it’s no wonder that more and more startups and entrepreneurs are developing their own 4.0 Oil initiatives. Across the global market, innovative projects are under development: in Italy, Elaisian has developed a proposal to monitor plant health to prevent pests while simultaneously reducing the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
The Salva-ulivi startup (by Elaisian) manages climatological data and uses an algorithm to provide real-time information to farmers on when and how to handle crops. With the Salva-ulivi application, the manufacturer receives notifications via sms or emails that inform him of the day-to-day needs of his crops as well as tips to improve harvesting.
REVOILution, a project presented at #MFR16, introduced a new technological platform to the Italian market for the production of extra virgin olive oil at home, which starts from a high quality, concentrated paste. REVOILution guarantees a natural product that preserves the organoleptic properties of oil that, in addition to preserving the taste and aroma, keeps the oil in an unadulterated state. This is particularly important in light of a study conducted by the team that found nearly 70% of Italian oil to be adulterated: often, it is neither Italian nor extra virgin, and is obtained by mixing poor quality oils which are “improved” through chemical processes.
Agri-food sustainability is still a developing field, but initiatives such as Q’omer BioActive Ingredients S.L. (Spain) showcase the potential of this emerging sector, where biotechnological transformation and marketing go hand in hand to produce tangible social and health benefits for producers and consumers. Q’omer BioActive produces olive extracts suitable for processing into cosmetics or for use in nutraceuticals and food products.
The growing popularity of Olive Oil 4.0 signals the introduction of a new wave of innovation and practices for olive oil producers and consumers. The future belongs to local producers that develop programs aimed at improving efficiency and maintaining quality, as well as those who find ways to diversify the use and applications of olive oil. Those who create opportunities to increase organic and economic sustainability, both in terms of technology and the cultivation of olive trees, are the most important actors in the preservation of an ancient crop.
The Future Food Institute is partnering with Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition 4.0 for the curation of the agritech and food tech pavillon. It is an Italian-based non-profit organization with global horizons that aims to build a more equitable world through enlightening a world-class breed of innovators, boosting entrepreneurial potential and improving agri-food expertise and tradition.