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Beyond Extra Virgin

A Big Leap from Insignificance to Excellence through Technological Innovation: The Pantelleria case

Presenter: Lamberto Baccioni -Agrivision Consulence Florence

Lamberto Baccioni - Agrivision

The origin of this project lies in a technical analysis of actual production of olive oil in Pantelleria, promoted by Felice Pipitone of the Department of Engineering and Technology of Agro-Forestry, University of Palermo. The objective of this project was to develop a supply chain specialized for the production of an excellent olive oil in an unfavorable conditions of soil and climate.

Located 100 km southwest of Sicily, Pantelleria island has an ancient tradition of olive oil production. On its volcanic soils, it has developed dwarfed olive trees with a creeping habit to overcome the strong wind. The volcanic soils, strong sunshine and low rainfall create difficult conditions for the development and production of olive trees. On top of this, the presence of high populations of olive fly makes the production of good oil even more difficult. The olive trees are mostly of Biancolilla and Nocellara varieties.

Olive production is from 300 to 500 tonnes per year. Traditionally, the harvest begins in late October to be completed by the end of December. The single mill on the island does not allow for timely and appropriate processing, and some producers carry their olives to mills in Sicily.
The project began in 2006 and concluded in 2009. It led to the establishment of a consortium of producers with an efficient olive oil extraction and storage plant, managed by an agronomist, following specific good manufacturing procedures. The production of "ISOLA" olive oil starts with the management of the olive trees: pruning, fertilizing and pesticide treatments. It continues with the harvesting that begins in early October and ends in late October. The olives are processed within 6 hours from collection under defined and controlled conditions of grinding with a disc crusher, malaxing under confined atmosphere at 25-27 ° C for 30 minutes and extraction with less than 10% water dilution of the paste. The oil is filtered within 48 hours and stored under nitrogen at a controlled temperature of 18-20° C until the time of packaging.

The results of the project in Pantelleria show that A  production chain, defined and controlled by a specialist, like an OliveOil Master, can get, even in difficult pedo-climatic conditions, an olive oil of excellence which can enhance the production area and be appreciated by more demanding consumers, thus rewarding producers.


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