Is nutrition labeling a purchasing driver for olive oil?

The first edition of the Olive Oil World Congress (OOWC), a meeting that will bring together all operators in the sector and will be held from June 26 to 28 at the headquarters of the CSIC in Madrid, has organized the conference 'Olive oil: the challenge of nutrition labeling' in the Fundación Patrimonio Comunal Olivarero of Mora, Toledo.

The event was welcomed by Iñaki Benito, managing director of the Fundación Patrimonio Comunal Olivarero; Emilio Bravo, mayor of Mora; and Elena Escobar, general director of Agrifood Production and Cooperatives of Castilla-La Mancha.

Iñaki Benito thanked for choosing the PCO headquarters in Mora for this conference and, in this case, to discuss such an interesting topic as nutritional labeling, which is a great challenge for the olive oil sector in the coming years.

During the presentation, the mayor of Toledo stressed that "to talk about olive oil is to talk about Mora." "This product sustains the economy of our town, we are the first producers of Castilla-La Mancha and we have to fight to keep our place".

Likewise, Elena Escobar has claimed that we must all work together to improve this sector and took the opportunity to point out that "this year's campaign in Castilla-La Mancha has finally been almost in the average of recent years, with a production of 107,400 tons of olive oil, although we would have liked it to be higher but the weather has not allowed it". "This result will allow us to face the future with more optimism", she added.

The main novelties of the OOWC were then presented to the attendees, an event that aims to become the most important event of the olive oil and olive grove sector at international level and finally took place the round table 'Olive oil: The challenge of nutritional labeling', in which participated Primitivo Fernández, director of the National Association of Industrial Packers and Refiners of Edible Oils (ANIERAC); Nuria Villanueva, head of the Management Office of Agro-food Cooperatives Castilla-La Mancha; Enrique García-Tenorio; director of the PDO Montes de Toledo; and Ana Martínez, director general of the Spanish Federation of Industrial Manufacturers of Olive Oil (Infaoliva).

All of them agreed that European Union regulations require scientific evidence to support any advertising claims or food product labeling that hints at a relationship between food components and health.

Primitivo Fernández urged that "our objective must be to achieve a greater number of permitted claims, with a more understandable label, especially for the youngest consumers". "We must be able to convey to consumers in Spain and the rest of the world that they have to maintain the use of olive oil, taking advantage of the fact that its main reason for purchase is its health benefits", he added.

"In the labeling of nutritional olive oil there is still a lot to do and achieve. We have to think of other strategies that adapt to the nature of this product. In view of the nutritional claims, we must continue to promote research, which is the spearhead for the expansion of olive oil around the world", stressed Nuria Villanueva.

Enrique García-Tenorio, for his part, pointed out that "nutritional information is important, although what is really crucial is education. Without knowledge, olive oil is devalued, and this is achieved through collaboration with the Public Administration and events such as the Olive Oil World Congress".

For Ana Martínez, the concepts of "health", "olive oil", "happiness" and "pleasure" go hand in hand. "Our consumer is loyal; he knows, values and enjoys the product. And, although the labeling system should be simpler, we know the way forward, we just need to be allowed to open it up".

The speakers agreed that a fair and clear approach to labeling is crucial to ensure that consumers can make informed choices without unjustified bias.

Under the slogan 'Taste it, enjoy it, it's olive oil', the OOWC counts on the collaboration of AgroBank, CIA - Agricoltori Italiani, FOOI, MSC, John Deere and the Junta de Andalucía through its brand 'Gusto del Sur' as Platinum sponsors; Grupo Interóleo, Yara International, GEA, AGQ Labs, Todolivo and Balam Agriculture as Gold sponsors; the company Kubota and SGS as Silver sponsors; Certicalidad and Agrocolor as other sponsors. Agrotec, Voz do Campo, Puglia Live, Grupo Joly and Oleo are the Media Partners of the OOWC.

By sponsoring the congress, you will be able to maintain direct contact with the most important professionals, in addition to having great visibility during the most important event of the olive oil sector. Anyone interested in being part of this project can obtain information through the Technical Secretariat of the OOWC by calling +34 917217929 or sending an email to