Olive & Oil 04/04/2011

Celebration of the Union olive-oil at the fifth edition of Olio Capitale

Great success of public and good business for the exhibitors of the oil event which is undisputed leader in Italy once again, also thanks to its trendiness. In Trieste the “Manifesto for the resurgence of Italian Oil” was launched

It has been the umpteenth confirmation, of the ability of Olio Capitale, the most successful oil exhibition in Italy, at its fifth edition, to focus the attention on the extra virgin olive oil alone, without any other gastronomic attraction.

Olive oil was the absolute protagonist in Trieste from March 18th through 21st. A gamble which was won, by the more than 200 exhibitors who participated with great success, as witnessed by the fact that the extra virgin was sold out at different stands on the last day, won by the numerous buyers, chefs, wine bar owners who attended including a consistent representative from Central Europe, who chose Olio Capitale to buy the excellence of Italian oil, won by the audience, more than 6000 visitors, more than one year earlier, who came to taste and buy oil from every Italian region, to bring home the variety of scents and flavors which represent the wealth of our country.

Such was the enthusiasm that the host of the event, Antonio Paoletti, president of Trieste Chamber of Commerce, organizer of the event, already announced the dates of the sixth edition of Olio Capitale, which will take place between March 2nd and March 5th, 2012.

Besides business, Olio Capitale reaffirms itself as a trendy event to analyze the issues of the sector, thanks to the presence of qualified guests, and to the proposal of new possible solutions. The fifth edition of Olio Capitale, which began just the day after the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the Italian Unity on March 17th, started with a bang, with the presentation of the “Manifesto for the Resurgence of Italian Oil”.

An instrumental condition for the growth of the industry is the recovery of a unity within the weaving factory, through the acceptance of universal principles of olive and oil, in order to achieve the conquest of a competitive space which has been missing for more than twenty years in Italy.

The reasons are easy to explain. As it has become apparent in Spain too, the power relies in the hands of the Great Distribution (GDO), which freely decides the price policies: in Spain, supermarket networks have been accused of constituting a cartel because the price of extra virgin olive oils, although very low, never went below the threshold (1.7 euro/kg) which would prompt financial support to private stockpiling. A similar situation exists in Italy, where the clashes between producers, pressers, and bottlers end up being a poor man’s war, with greater benefit for the GDO.

Talk shows which dealt with visible and invisible production costs showed that each element of the weaving factory suffers from structural issues which affect their balance sheets. Olive producers should modernize their cultivations to achieve new profit margins, but lack cash to invest. Olive pressers are crushed by a double competition, increasing energy costs and under products. Bottlers’ image of being bloodsuckers has been seriously downplayed by indisputable data showing that a great oil bottler can generate a 100,000 euro profit every 400 million euro of sales.

It is therefore necessary to increase prices for the weaving factory to recover value, is to emphasize the value of the product independently of the use that GDO makes of extra virgin oils, as a poster product to attract customers or ensure their loyalty. The only way to break with this logic is to avoid masochistic contrasts, like the ones on alcohol-esters and oil frauds which has recently taken the stage in the last few weeks, whose effect is to alienate the consumer rather than attracting him to the reality of the weaving factory. Extra virgin oil has gone unchanged for fifty years, only slightly adapting to times; to do marketing now, a true “earthquake” is needed by the sector. It is necessary to reinvent the product, to guarantee it better and more than has been done with the extra virgin, to select it, without including everybody, in the better Italian way. Fantasy is necessary too, to give value to the product, according to a cultural process which should give value to all olive oils, not just extra virgin oils, since it happens today that an olive oil is more expensive than an extra virgin, to include new products, new food habits, without excluding cosmetics and other segments.

Olio Capitale did not spare recreational moments as well, like the cooking school, coordinated by Emilio Cuk, where a numerous representative from the Italian Cooks Federation have welcomed and delighted the audience by presenting regional dishes combined to oil from the same territories, which is always a winning combination. Another event in t than the project “Olio Officina”, directed by the oleologist Luigi Caricato, with the active presence of maitre Giuseppe Capano.

Great success was achieved by the Oil Bar too, cured by Olea, which was open to schools to, to teach youth to appreciate olive oils of quality. A large audience has also attended the guided tasting events, which have been followed by the popular vote for the awarding of the prize.

Olio Capitale has been much more than this, and we will report on it in the next editions of Teatro Naturale, since it would be impossible to summarize everything in just few lines.
For sure, Olio Capitale represents a unique and original format, complex and simple at the same time, in which each segment falls into place perfectly in the context of a wider picture, where the extra virgin oil is anyway always the true protagonist.

di T N