Monthly Archives: February 2017

  • Recipe: Crostini make Oscar-worthy snacks

    Pear and Blue Cheese Crostini with Balsamic Cream, Nuts and Olive Oil

    Set the baguette slices on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush each slice lightly with olive oil. Bake the crostini, seven to eight minutes, or until lightly toasted. Crostini can be made a few hours before topping. Cover and keep at room temperature until needed.

    Sweet and smoky fruit, tangy cheese and rich walnuts combine in these crostini. Those items are drizzled with balsamic cream. It is syrupy, reduced balsamic vinegar found at specialty food stores and in the deli section or vinegar aisle of most supermarkets.

    Preparation: 20 minutes
    Cooking time: a few minutes
    Makes: 12 crostini

    Ingredients

    1 medium, slightly under-ripe pear
    2 tsp lemon juice
    2 tsp olive oil, plus some for the grill (suggested Extra Virgin Olive Oil OLIORAMA)
    12 crostini
    12 thin slices blue cheese, each large enough to fit the top of the crostini (see Note)
    12 walnut or pecan halves
    • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • balsamic cream, to taste
    12 small rosemary or Italian parsley sprigs (optional)

    Instructions

    Preheat an indoor grill or barbecue to medium-high. Quarter pear lengthwise and remove core. Now cut each quartered pear, lengthwise, into three wedges. Toss pear slices with lemon juice and 2 tsp olive oil. Oil the bars of your grill. Grill the pears about 30 seconds per side, and then set on a plate.

    Set crostini on a serving platter. Top each with a slice of cheese, pear wedge and a walnut or pecan half. Sprinkle with pepper and drizzle with a little balsamic crema. If desired, garnish crostini with a small rosemary or parsley sprig, and then serve.

    Note: Don’t care for blue cheese? Then top crostini with Brie, mascarpone or goat cheese.

    How to make crostini

    To make the crostini, toasted pieces of bread, for today’s recipes, I started with a baguette about two and half to three inches wide, a size that will yield bite-sized crostini. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Slice the baguette, widthwise, into thin slices, stopping when you have the number of crostini you’ll need. Just so you know, a two-foot long baguette will yield about 60 crostini.


    Hummus, Olive and Feta Crostini

    Mediterranean-style bites you can quickly make with store-bought hummus.

    Preparation: 15 minutes
    Cooking time: none
    Makes: 12 crostini

    Ingredients

    12 crostini
    3/4 cup store-bought or homemade hummus
    1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
    6 pitted black olives, each quartered
    • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling (suggested Extra Virgin Olive Oil OLIORAMA)
    • finely grated lemon zest, to taste
    • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • fresh oregano leaves, to taste

    Instructions

    Set crostini on a serving platter, and then divide and spread with the hummus. Top each crostini with some feta cheese and two quarter pieces of olive. Drizzle and top each crostini with a little olive oil, grated lemon zest, pepper and oregano leaves, and serve.

    source 

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    Pear and Blue Cheese Crostini with Balsamic Cream, Nuts and Olive Oil Set the baguette slices on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush each slice lightly with olive oil. Bake the crostini, seven to eight minutes, or until lightly toasted. Crostini can be made a few hours... 
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  • 3

    There could be another worldwide olive oil crisis looming

    Heavy rains and the olive fly have decimated Southern Europe’s crop of olives, dropping the region’s output of olive oil and pushing prices through the roof.

    A worldwide olive oil shortage may be looming, but this time nobody will have to weather long lines at the gas station. They’ll just have to pay more for olive oil. Bad weather and a pesky insect have all but decimated this year’s olive crop in Southern Europe, which produces more than 70 percent of the world’s olive oil and generated $2.2 billion in 2013.

    Italy alone produces about 442,000 tons (401,000 tonnes) of olive oil annually. But the Italian olive harvest recently took a beating when early rains knocked the buds off the trees, decreasing its yield. Next came an infestation of Bactrocera oleae, more commonly referred to as the olive fly. The destructive insect devastated Italy’s crop from the inside out. Italian oil producers are expected to produce only 290,000 tons of oil this year, far below 2016’s 470,000 tons (426,000 tonnes).

    “It’s really bad,” Borri says. “These Italian companies are going to lose a lot of revenue this year. There is not enough production. The price for extra virgin olive oil is crazy; a 13 to 14 percent increase. The price changes every day.”

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    Heavy rains and the olive fly have decimated Southern Europe’s crop of olives, dropping the region’s output of olive oil and pushing prices through the roof. A worldwide olive oil shortage may be looming, but this time nobody will have to weather long lines at the... 
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  • Italian police said they have busted a crime ring exporting fake EVOO to the United States

    talian police said they have busted a crime ring exporting fake extra virgin olive oil to the United States, highlighting the mafia’s infiltration of Italy’s famed agriculture and food business.

    Twelve people with links to the ‘Ndrangheta, the organized crime group based in the southern Calabria region, were arrested on Tuesday on a series of charges including mafia association and fraud, police said in a statement.

    The gang shipped cheap olive pomace oil to the U.S. where it was re-labeled as the more expensive “extra virgin” variety, prized for its rich taste and health benefits, and distributed as such to retail stores in New Jersey, they said.

    Italian crime syndicates earned an estimated 16 billion euros ($16.85 billion) in 2015 through illegal activities in the agriculture sector, up from 15 billions in 2014, according to Italy’s agricultural association, Coldiretti.

    Besides counterfeiting products, gangs make money seizing control of farmland and firms, fixing prices, controlling distribution and through labor exploitation, studies say.

    In 2015, crime groups forced more than 100,000 Italians and migrants to work long hours for little pay in fields across the country, according to a report by Italian General Confederation of Labor union (CGIL).

    Police said they found no evidence of labor exploitation linked to the fake olive oil scheme, which saw at least ten tonnes of low quality oil, in some cases past sell-by date, sent to the United States.

    Pomace oil is extracted from olive pulp left-over from the production of higher quality oils using chemical solvents.

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    talian police said they have busted a crime ring exporting fake extra virgin olive oil to the United States, highlighting the mafia’s infiltration of Italy’s famed agriculture and food business. Twelve people with links to the ‘Ndrangheta, the organized crime... 
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  • Gastronomia Toscana with a new restaurant in the heart of Manhattan

    A restaurant in the heart of Manhattan, where the Tuscan tradition can be tasted and breathed, surrounded by a modern and comfortable environment. The new generation at the head of Gastronomia Toscana in the last year, after a thorough market analysis, developed a strong brand strategy and started an action of rebranding, which involved logo, packs, and corporate website.

    Gastronomia Toscana, which has been on the market of fresh products for 30 years, emphasizes its role as a corporate brand, after a long analysis of the market, with the signature on all product brands and a major restyling, from the logo to packaging, to meet the needs expressed by consumers who are increasingly attentive and sensitive.

    Gastronomia Toscana was born in 1985 in Prato thanks to the intuition the three brothers Franco, Marcello and Giovanni Tempestini had at that time. It is present on the market with its historic line of appetizers, sauces and ready first courses with Gastronomia Toscana brand; with the line of first courses and gourmet sauces with ‘Piccoli Lussi Quotidiani (Small Daily Luxuries)’ brand, realised in collaboration with chef Gianfranco Visscher; with the line of ready meals for coffee bars with ‘Siamo pronti (We are ready)’ brand. In the last few years ‘Mi garba (I like it)’ brand was added. The last one is the great challenge on the US market.

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    A restaurant in the heart of Manhattan, where the Tuscan tradition can be tasted and breathed, surrounded by a modern and comfortable environment. The new generation at the head of Gastronomia Toscana in the last year, after a thorough market analysis, developed a strong brand... 
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  • New study: For a Healthy Heart, add a little Olive Oil

    The effectiveness of the Mediterranean diet isn’t really up for debate anymore—at this point, it’s more a question of how to tweak it, and home in on what the active ingredients are. (For example, the MIND diet is a science-based variant of the Mediterranean diet, developed purely from what the research has shown.) Now, a new study looks at whether olive oil or nuts do more for cholesterol in people at high risk of heart disease, since both have been shown to have significant heart benefits in the past, and both contain healthy fats. The short answer is that olive oil seems to do more for cholesterol, but nuts are not without their own benefit.

    High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is considered the “good” cholesterol, since it clears less healthy forms of cholesterol from the blood. But it hasn’t been shown to function so well in people who are at higher risk of heart disease. “At the same time, small-scale trials have shown that consuming antioxidant-rich foods like virgin olive oil, tomatoes and berries improved HDL function in humans,” said study author Montserrat Fitó in a news release. “We wanted to test those findings in a larger, controlled study.” The authors underline that how well HDL functions is at least as important as how much of it you have.

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    The effectiveness of the Mediterranean diet isn’t really up for debate anymore—at this point, it’s more a question of how to tweak it, and home in on what the active ingredients are. (For example, the MIND diet is a science-based variant of the Mediterranean diet, developed purely... 
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  • Bad harvests in Europe and fake olive oil raise the question, are you getting the real deal?

    Olive oil is a staple ingredient in many Mediterranean dishes, yet the source for the highest quality olive oil these days may be thousands of miles from Europe and the Middle East.

    The countries best known for olive oil — Italy, Spain and Greece — have had bad harvests this year from unruly weather, Bloomberg recently reported, and the prices for olive oil have jumped in response. Meanwhile, California has been steadily increasing its olive oil manufacturing, and implemented strict standards for the oil. “More and more people are aware of the high standards we have and embracing locally produced products,” said Patricia Darragh, executive director of the California Olive Oil Council based in Berkeley, a trade association with a seal certification for local farmers.

    More domestic players are joining the U.S. olive oil production business, which has seen a 9.2% increase in revenue over the past five years, and demand and revenue are expected to continue to rise through 2021, though at a slower pace, according to research firm IBISWorld. California alone makes up more than 99% of U.S. olive oil production, according to the California Olive Oil Council.

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    Olive oil is a staple ingredient in many Mediterranean dishes, yet the source for the highest quality olive oil these days may be thousands of miles from Europe and the Middle East. The countries best known for olive oil — Italy, Spain and Greece — have had bad harvests this... 
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  • Olive Oil Prices are going through the roof

    Hoarding oil of a new kind after terrible harvests in Italy, Spain and Greece. Now erratic weather in Spain and Italy, the world’s biggest producers, is rippling through global olive oil markets, and it’s about to get worse. Prices for extra virgin olive oil in Italy have soared almost one-third since October to €5.75 ($6.15) a kilogram, while Spanish costs jumped about 10%, according to the International Olive Council in Madrid. The forecasters at Mintec Ltd. in England see room for even further gains.

    Nowhere is the surge felt more than Britain. Thanks to the Brexit-induced collapse of the pound, olive oil is the most expensive it’s been in at least seven years. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is closing six of his Italian restaurants around the country after the currency’s crash drove up costs.

    “Olive oil is expensive and very much in the hands of nature,” said Oliver. “The really good stuff is worth every penny. You pretty much charge the oil per tablespoon, like you would foie gras or caviar.”

    Chef Ben Tish, who runs Salt Yard, a Spanish and Italian tapas restaurant in central London, says he normally buys 100 liters of olive oil per week to drizzle over charcoal grilled flat breads,whip into alioli, and pour into a polenta cake batter. His price rose 13% to £26 ($32.70) for five liters, from £23 over the past three months.

    Prices have become more volatile because of erratic weather in the past few years, and global production is set to drop about 8% this season, according to Bourne End, England-based Mintec.

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    Hoarding oil of a new kind after terrible harvests in Italy, Spain and Greece. Now erratic weather in Spain and Italy, the world’s biggest producers, is rippling through global olive oil markets, and it’s about to get worse. Prices for extra virgin olive oil in Italy... 
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  • Olive Fruit Extract shows promise for consumers at risk of arterial stiffness

    A study on a standardized olive fruit extract shows promise for consumers at risk of arterial stiffness, as measured by a reduction in triglycerides. The extract showed less effect when measured with a vascular index.

    In a recent study published in the journal Drugs R&D, a standardized olive fruit extract (Proliva, supplied by Euromed) improved scores on an arterial measurement index as well as in measurements of mean triglyceride for the higher dosage group.The authors noted that arterial stiffness is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease and mortality. The researchers chose to measure this with something called the Cardio-Ankle Vascular Index, a measurement tool that has been gaining traction among cardiovascular researchers. The index, which was first proposed in 2008, derives a stiffness parameter by plotting the natural logarithm of systolic-diastolic pressure ratio against the arterial wall extensibility.According to a 2013 review paper , the index has the advantage of being theoretically independent of blood pressure, as higher pressure naturally would put more stress on the arterial wall and cause it to appear to be more stiff. “CAVI has been widely applied clinically to assess arterial stiffness in subjects with known cardiovascular diseases including those with diagnosed atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and stroke as well as those at risk, including those with hypertension, diabetes, the elderly, and the obese,” the authors of the 2013 paper wrote.

    Modest benefit showing need for more research
    In the most recent olive extract study, the Euromed researchers divided 36 subjects in the double-blind, placebo-controlled study into three groups, one receiving 250 mg of the extract daily, which delivered 50 mg of the active ingredient, hydroxytyrosol, a 500 mg dose (100 mg of hydroxytyrosol) or a placebo. The subjects, who were all between the ages of 45 and 65, were followed for 11 days.Measurements at the end of the study showed no statistical differences between the groups in the CAVI measurement, with all three improving slightly. The authors said that a larger-scale, longer term study could better define the placebo effect, but did note that the high dose extract group did show the biggest improvement in the measure of blood triglyceride levels, and had the largest CAVI improvement, which they said showed a trend toward “improved arterial elasticity”. More research could better define this benefit, they said. The researchers also included a Visual Analog Scale (VAS) questionnaire portion of the study, looking at various parameters of ‘energy,’ including tiredness, fatigue and appetite, by which it was determined that the extract was well tolerated.

    Article sources:nutraingredients-usa and pmc

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    A study on a standardized olive fruit extract shows promise for consumers at risk of arterial stiffness, as measured by a reduction in triglycerides. The extract showed less effect when measured with a vascular index. In a recent study published in the journal Drugs R&D,... 
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  • Movements in the prices paid to producers for extra virgin oil

    Graph 1 tracks the weekly movements in the prices paid to producers for extra virgin oil in the three top EU producing countries and in Tunisia, while graph 3 shows the weekly changes in the producer prices for refined olive oil in the three main EU producers.

    The monthly price movements for the same two grades of oil are given in Graphs 2 & 4.

    Extra virgin olive oil
    – Producer prices in Spain over the last few weeks increased steadily to reach €3.64/kg at the end of January 2017, which was an 10% increase compared to the same period the previous year. If we compare this price with the maximum price in the third week of August 2015 (€4.23/kg), it presents a 14% decrease (Graph 1).

    Italy – Producer prices in Italy began rising in mid-August, speeding up in the first week of November, when they broke the €5 barrier, and coming in at €5.90/kg at the end of January 2017, for a 70% year-on-year increase. Graph 2 shows the trend in monthly prices for the extra virgin olive oil category in recent campaigns.

    Greece – The prices in Greece from mid-August to the end of October remained stable but, as in other markets, they then increased at the end of January 2017 to reach €3.46/kg at the end of January 2017, which is a 17% increase compared to the same period the previous year.

    Tunisia – Prices in Tunisia, following some weeks of relative stability, increase as of the third week of January, coming in at €3.88/kg at the end of January 2017 for a 18% year-on-year increase.

    Refined olive oil: The producer prices for refined olive oil in Spain and Italy generally follow the same trend as the prices for extra virgin olive oil. In period the previous year and in Italy they on-year increase. No price data are available for this product in Greece.

    At the end of January 2017, the price (€3.64/kg) was of €0.10/kg. In Italy the price difference between the two categories was greater at 3.

    Spain, they came in at €3.54/kg, which was a 1 hey came in at €3.62/kg, at the end of January 2017 difference in Spain between refined olive oil, 11% increase on the same
    2017, which was a 15% year refined (€3.54/kg) and extra virgin oil€2.28/kg (Graph3)

    Source: International Olive Council MARKET NEWSLETTER No 112 – January 2017

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    Graph 1 tracks the weekly movements in the prices paid to producers for extra virgin oil in the three top EU producing countries and in Tunisia, while graph 3 shows the weekly changes in the producer prices for refined olive oil in the three main EU producers. The monthly price... 
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  • Trends in global consumption of table olives

    Research on table olives has shown that the consumption of this product can strengthen consumers’ natural immune systems. Table olives could be the main fermented probiotic vegetable product sold in the future. The latest data provided by researchers from the PROBIOLIVES Project shows that some of the lactic acid bacteria (LAB) generated in the fermentation of table olives have better results than other forms of bacteria that have been recognised as probiotic microorganisms and that are currently used in many milk products.
    From a nutritional perspective, a normal daily intake of olives, which would be of 25–28 g (approximately seven olives), has an energetic value of 37 Kcal. Those calories mainly come from the olives’ fat contents, 82% of which is monosaturated – the same healthy fat as is found in olive oil. The regular consumption of olives also helps provide the daily recommended fibre intake; they are a source of oleic acid and they provide carbohydrates and protein.

    Olives also contain minerals such as sodium, iron, calcium and magnesium, which are particularly important for those who practice sports given their action on muscle contractions and nerve impulses. One of the main nutrients in table olives are
    polyphenols and provitamins A and E, the antioxidant properties of which act against oxidative processes that occur in the practice of sport, affecting both performance during exercise and during the recovery period.

    As part of the activities provided for in the International Agreement and its standardisation mandate, the IOC is responsible for drawing up and revising trade standards. In the case of the trade standard applying to table olives, it lays down definitions and provisions relating to the different commercial categories of table olives. Its work also includes revising the Codex Alimentarius standard for this product, with a view to regulating the quality criteria in international trade.


    TRENDS IN GLOBAL CONSUMPTION OF TABLE OLIVES
    The global consumption of table olives in recent years has multiplied by 2.7, increasing by 182.0% over the period 1990/91–2016/17. Graph 1 illustrates this trend, where the largest increase in consumption is seen in the main IOC member producers. Production in some of these countries has increased markedly, as a result of consumption. Egypt is
    one such case, and which has gone from consuming 11 000 t in 1990/91 to 400 000 t in 2016/17. In this same period Algeria went from consuming 14 000 to 244 000 t and Turkey from 110 000 to 350 000 t.

    The other countries have also seen increases, although these have been proportionally lower. Graph 2 shows the annual consumption of table olives per inhabitant in IOC member countries in 2015, with Albania in the lead with a consumption of 10.7kg/ inhabitant/ year.

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    Research on table olives has shown that the consumption of this product can strengthen consumers’ natural immune systems. Table olives could be the main fermented probiotic vegetable product sold in the future. The latest data provided by researchers from the PROBIOLIVES Project... 
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  • Sales of olive oil & olive pomace oil open 2016/17 crop year

    Sales of olive oil and olive pomace oil open the 2016/17 crop year on an upturn. In the first two months (October – November 2016) the eight markets that appear in the table below present an increase of 98.6% in China; 65% in Australia; 42% in Canada; 17% in Japan; 16% in Brazil and 5% in the United States, compared to the same period in the previous campaign. At the time of publishing this Newsletter, figures for Russia were only available for the month of October, when a 20 % year-on-year increase was recorded.

    As regards EU1 trade in the first month of the current crop year (October 2016), intra-EU acquisitions increased by 24% and extra-EU imports fell by 56% compared to the same month the previous year.

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    Sales of olive oil and olive pomace oil open the 2016/17 crop year on an upturn. In the first two months (October – November 2016) the eight markets that appear in the table below present an increase of 98.6% in China; 65% in Australia; 42% in Canada; 17% in Japan; 16% in Brazil... 
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  • World Olive Oil Exhibition 2017

    The World Olive Oil Exhibition will be held on the coming 29th and 30th of March at Madrid’s IFEMA

    Juan Vilar will give a speech titled “New producing areas of olive oil: Micro and macro-environmental strategies” on the 29th of March 2017.

    Juan Vilar (Chilluévar, 1970) is a strategic advisor with a PhD in Economy, a permanent professor at the University of Jaén and an international expert in the Olive Oil Economy. Within his extensive professional career, he has been part of several management boards, as well as having held diverse executive positions in multinational areas. He has published more than 350 scientific and educational contributions, among which books, articles and lectures across the globe.

    What key points are going to be dealt with during the speech?

    A tour through the current situation of the international olive growing will be addressed, with a particular focus on the macro-environment. We will bring to light the most significant facts regarding consumption, and we will analyze each and every producing country from this point of view. In addition to this, we will tackle the data in the field of production; and subsequently we will analyze the expansion of olive growing over the past 15 years, as well as the challenges and future strategies considering the type of growing and the category of produced olive oil, which will be both examined as elements of the micro-environment. In essence, a more than detailed summary, about what has happened, is happening and will happen in the years to come within the sector, will be presented, both from an international context point of view and the organizational field point of view. Weak points and strategies to counteract them will be tackled.

    What do you consider the key challenges for the future of olive oil in Spain?

    From the olive oil point of view, Spain is a particularly rich country. The development undertaken over the past 25 years can be seen in areas such as technology, knowledge, the provision of resources devoted to oil mills, the quality of our olive oils, productivity of olive trees, and the quantity of exports among others. All these aspects make Spain the undisputed leader. However, regarding olive growing, the biggest challenge that faces Spain is the lack of competitiveness of the olive oils, mainly due to the dominant type of crop –the traditional olive growing–, amplified by the immobility that prevailed in certain areas over the last years.

    Which are currently the most promising markets in olive oil production?

    From a global perspective, more than 83% of the produced olive oil is consumed by the countries which produce it: meaning that it is a product that is consumed by familiarity. And although the demand spreads across 174 countries, during the few last years there has been a fall in domestic consumption in countries such as Spain, Italy, Greece or Tunisia. This situation gives way to the expansion of exports to be affected by a fall in prices, due to an excess of competitiveness between those countries involved. It is particularly necessary to encourage domestic consumption, urgently and in a coordinated way, within the said countries, whose current total surplus exceeds a million tonnes. At the same time, of course consumption has to be promoted in the emerging countries.

    What importing countries do you think are going to play a key role in 2017?

    Undoubtedly: the United States, which is still ranked as world’s third olive oil exporting country. And we should also pay attention to countries such as Brazil, Arabia, China or India (these last two countries make up, after all, 35% of the world’s current population) among others; without overlooking the major role of Italy within the Spanish exporting balance of payments.

    Yourself, who usually participates in the WOOE, what do you expect from the fair in its sixth year?

    During each and every one of the past exhibitions of which I had the opportunity to attend –and this one is the fifth one–, the following exhibition improved in image, resources, attendance, customer traffic, media presence, etc. to the previous one. Helped by the current situation of the sector and taking into account the efforts that the organizers are carrying out, on this occasion I am absolutely certain that this year will be an unprecedented great fair at all levels; of course until the next one.

    WORLD OLIVE OIL EXHIBITION 2017 – 29th & 30th March

    The World Olive Oil Exhibition, which will be held on the coming 29th and 30th of March 2017 at Madrid’s IFEMA, offers the best opportunity to stimulate an increasingly global market. This trade fair is mainly geared towards producing cooperatives and olive mills that seek to open new markets and exportation possibilities.

    For the 2017 fair, the WOOE is committed to gathering, in Madrid, the major international companies, guaranteeing an important presence of importers from the United States, the Middle East, Italy and Central Europe. Taking into account the active focus on olive oil by several emerging countries, an international event such as this trade fair is also an opportunity for the packaging sector to position itself in those emerging markets.

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    The World Olive Oil Exhibition will be held on the coming 29th and 30th of March at Madrid’s IFEMA Juan Vilar will give a speech titled “New producing areas of olive oil: Micro and macro-environmental strategies” on the 29th of March 2017. Juan Vilar (Chilluévar, 1970)... 
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