Oil mills and millers play a crucial role for quality, a conference on Saturday 16 March

Olive variety, growing area, agricultural techniques and harvesting processes are critical for the quality of extra-virgin olive oil. However, oil mills and millers also play a significant role in the production process. The same drupes may be used to produce very different oils. The type of processing greatly affects oil features, as olive oils of the same quality may have different degrees of fruity, pungent or bitter aromas. Key steps are: pressing (drupes are crushed into an homogeneous paste), kneading and extraction process. Oil millers must have multiple skills: besides the management and operation of the olive oil plant, they must be familiar with the basic tasting techniques to identify olive oil features and timely implement any corrective measure to remedy any defect that may result from mistakes in the processing; they must be able to assess the drupes, their ripening and different cultivars; finally they must have the appropriate mechanic and technology skills to remedy any failure in the plant or its maintenance. In technologically advanced olive oil plants, metrics of the oil mill and the decanter as well as the time of kneading and the temperature of the whole processing may be changed to achieve quality objectives.

Over the past decades, the drive to technology innovation in extra-virgin olive oil has been disruptive and it has been based on the evolution of the notion of olive oil quality. It must be noted that quality requirements on extra-virgin olive oil have included healthy nutrition principles and sensory properties that – as in the wine sector – may make a significant difference. Phenolic and volatile compounds affecting sensory properties – now included in quality criteria – are critical in the light of the technology revolution in the mechanic extraction of extra-virgin olive oil.

These topics will be discussed in the conference “The role of oil mills in olive oil quality” on Saturday, 16 March at 2:00pm, sponsored by the Accademia Nazionale dell’Olivo e dell’Olio. This technical event is open to oil millers, olive growers and consumers to discuss processing techniques in olive oil millers and their impact on the final quality of olive oil. Speakers include: Paolo Parmegiani, agronomist, with a talk on “The reality of olive oil mills in the Upper Adriatic between Italy, Slovenia and Croatia”, Lanfranco Conte, former professor of food chemistry at the University of Udine, with a talk on “Regulated and non-regulated quality criteria on virgin olive oils”, and Maurizio Servili, professor of food science and technology at the University of Perugia, with a talk on “Process innovation and product quality”. These topics will also be discussed with the audience.