Olive Tree and Olive Products: Sant’Anna School and University of Pisa co-sponsor the Pisa National Olive Oil Conference, a two-day meeting on October 18-20 to explore innovative biotechnology and guarantee olive oil quality

Italy is one of the leading nations in the cultivation of olive trees and the production of olive oil. Despite bad seasons and insects, Italian olive oil quality is very high thanks to the efforts of producers and a biotechnology approach for sustainable production and extraction. The fourth “Olive Tree and Olive Products National Conference” which will take place Wednesday, October 18 through Friday, October 20 at “Polo Piagge” aula magna of University of Pisa - via Giacomo Matteotti, brings together academics and olive oil producers. The “Olive Tree and Olive Products National Conference” to be held in Tuscany, is co-sponsored by the Department of Agricultural, Food and Agro-Environmental Sciences of University of Pisa, the Società Ortoflorofrutticoltura Italiana (SOI), the Italian National Academy for Olive and Olive Oil, the Tuscany Region Authority and the Accademia dei Georgofili.

The conference is organized by Professor Luca Sebastiani, director of Sant’Anna School Life Sciences Institute, and Professor Riccardo Gucci of the Department of Agricultural, Food and Agro-Environmental Sciences of University of Pisa, who are the scientific coordinators. They invited experts and speakers who will cover a range of topics including trends within the olive oil industry, olive cultivation, extraction, refining, microbiology and advanced biotechnologies, marketing strategies for olive oil and related products.

Presentations are scheduled on October 18-19 in Pisa and Pescia (Olivicoltori Toscani Associati). Each workshop will focus on specific topics. One of the goals is to facilitate scientific discussions and analyze latest research on Xylella fastidiosa (according to reports, more than 31 species of phytophagous insect pests were determined in olive groves throughout the Mediterranean region). Analysis of cropping practices and farming systems will be also part of the discussion as a consequence of the Italian government containment plan which could force eradication of infected plants.

During the conference participants will have the opportunity to taste selected extra virgin olive oils from Tuscany on October 19 at Arsenali Repubblicani, Pisa (7.00 pm).

In 2017, an estimated drop in olive oil production between 40 and 50 percent below the average will be offset by an increase of quality. “It is too early to provide reliable data, but we can say consumers are still very interested in healthy eating and using high quality olive oil” said Luca Sebastiani. “Since we all know that extra-virgin olive oil is good for us and has healthy fats that help reduce our risk of chronic diseases, there have been reports of serious infestations in many regions of Italy with some varieties of olive being more susceptible. There is considerable debate about the replacement of the dead trees. Another concern is the impact of residues in the olive oil and the replacement of old production technologies. We face a constant conflict between the market which is trying to expand and the people's concern with sustainability and human health. The challenge is to have higher quality products with a more environmentally friendly approach”.

Riccardo Gucci added “An overview of the current situation of the Italian olive oil sector – Italy is the second largest olive oil producer in the world after Spain- reports that Italian production is still appreciated throughout the world for its high quality standards. Despite the recession, the demand for Italian oil continued to grow thanks to a combination of quality and innovation. Our small and medium-sized businesses are constantly researching methods for maintaining high quality while investing in a general renovation of their infrastructure. This “Olive Tree and Olive Products National Conference” particularly focuses on new strategies for the transformation processes and growth. The future priorities identified by experts and producers are centred on attaining benefits for the Italian olive oil sector as a whole. The Tuscany Region Authority actively cooperates with industry and commercial operators to promote exports of our products, and to increase consumer awareness of extra-virgin olive oil”.

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