Trends and Challenges In the Olive Oil Boom
Over the past three decades, global olive oil consumption has nearly doubled. Having long been hailed for its health benefits, and as an integral part of Mediterranean cuisines, its popularity has spread across the globe. According to the Agricultural Outlook Report, the European Union expects olive oil consumption to grow by 400,000 tonnes by 2030.
This continued popularity of olive oil has been helped by several factors:
Rise in the Health-Conscious Consumer: Increased awareness of nutritional information coupled with growing prevalence of chronic lifestyle diseases has encouraged the adoption of healthier lifestyles. Demand for healthier products and growing prestige for the Mediterranean diet – of which olive oil is a staple ingredient - has appeal on the global consumer appetite.
Mindful Eating: This growing preference for organic foods is fuelling growth of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), which is projected to reach 1815.1 million USD by 2026. Once sold only in speciality shops, premium products are becoming more widely available, with consumers willing to pay the higher price for quality.
Booming Exports & New Market Growth: The increased availability of olive oil in what is considered non-traditional consumer markets is helping to grow awareness in olive oil. From China, the US, Russia and Australia, demand from exports as well as new local production in some countries will continue to rise alongside continued consumption levels found in traditional countries across Europe.
From olives to olive oil
The production of olive oil has remained largely unchanged for centuries and is carried out exclusively with mechanical and not chemical processes. Ripe olives or olives that are about to ripen are ground immediately after the harvest in autumn with their kernels. The olive oil is then separated from the remaining skin, pulp and core by pressing or centrifuging. It is then essential that the olives are transported to the oil mill on the same day and processed the next day at the latest. Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is considered a food with a long shelf life. However, during storage EVOO undergoes several compositional changes that reduce its quality. If the olives are stored too long between harvest and pressing, unwanted fermentation processes start to work on the olive fruits which means it quickly loses its fresh, crunchy aroma, essentially degrading the quality of the final olive oil.
The following elements impact final clarity, product quality and shelf life of olive oil:
Wax content found in the oils is often a cause for concern, as consumers often prefer a bright, clear product at typical storage temperatures. Waxes originate on the skins of olives and are found in higher amounts in olives grown in hot regions and in olives of certain varieties. These natural waxes help protect the olives from insects and other elements and are released into the olive oil during processing. Without treatment, these waxes will form white clumps or haze in olive oil at cooler temperatures, affecting its visual appeal, and could be perceived by the consumer as oil that has spoiled.
Waxes also negatively affect the flavor profile, masking some of the fruity and spicy flavor notes, which are sought after in premium olive oils. To meet growing demand, we’ve developed effective solutions which address the challenges faced with wax removal. Find out more here.
Removal of other particles is also essential to the final appearance and color of the oil. Oil extracted from the olive paste contains plant tissue, making it naturally turbid. Turbidity can deteriorate the quality by promoting oxidation of olive oil. Oxidation not only affects appearance but results in the development of rancid odors and flavors which can decrease the nutritional quality and safety of the oils, as well as reduce shelf life. Particle elimination and increased shelf life can be achieved with specific filtration solutions which meet the quality levels expected of olive oil.
Removal of Water
Olive fruit residues and water in the unfiltered oil form a sediment which oxidizes quickly and negatively impacts the quality. Even a 0.2% water content in the finished product can diminish its quality making it less appealing to olive oil connoisseurs. Small droplets of water can also affect taste and aroma as they can decrease the fruity notes naturally found in the oils. While removal of water from oil is essential, it is important that filtration does not also lose quality oil in the process. Traditional thin cellulose papers are limited in their water removal capacity, but depth filter sheets are extremely effective at efficiently removing water traces while preserving the natural oils. Find out more about our solutions for water removal here.