Study day in Rome with Minister Lollobrigida and representatives of the entire olive oil supply chain, from the field to the table, conceived by the entrepreneurs Giovanni and Alessia Zucchi, among the pioneers of sustainability in the oil sector at an international level

This is the meaning of the study day "Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Sustainability" which was held at the St Regis hotel in Rome and which saw the participation of the Minister of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forestry, the Hon. Francesco Lollobrigida.

  • Divided into three separate round tables, the day was an important opportunity for reflection with all the representatives of the olive oil supply chain, in the awareness that the sustainability of the supply chain itself must be experienced as an essential value by all the players who work there, starting olive growers to reach the final consumer, engaged together in a path that responds to the specific problems and real needs of each one.
  • At the end of her speech, Alessia and Giovanni Zucchi donated to the Minister Hon. Francesco Lollobrigida the "Guidelines for the evaluation and communication of the sustainability of Italian olive oils". The result of an interdisciplinary work that lasted more than three years and developed with the contribution of a Scientific Committee of professors and experts active in some of the most prestigious Italian universities, the Guidelines are a fundamental tool for qualifying and communicating the sustainability of olive oil, in the different areas in which it is divided: environmental, social, economic and nutritional.
  • “In such a delicate historical moment, it is necessary that the entire supply chain - from farm to fork - converge on a single certification of the Sustainability of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I strongly believe in this project and for this I am honored to have supported the Scientific Committee that created the Guidelines". Commented Giovanni Zucchi, who since 2016 has poured his utmost effort into promoting sustainability in the oil sector, for the growth of the entire supply chain.

Pillar of the Mediterranean diet, Italian olive oil is one of the products that best express the values that make Made in Italy food a reference of absolute quality, not only in Europe but throughout the world. For this reason it is essential that, in line with the indications of the European "from Farm to Fork" strategy, the Italian olive-oil supply chain quickly and most effectively takes up the challenge towards a transition to management systems capable of combining the highest quality of the product with the highest guarantees of sustainability.

This is the basic theme on which the study day "Extra virgin olive oil and sustainability" developed, held today at the St. Regis hotel in Rome, with the participation of the Minister of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forests, the Hon. Francesco Lollobrigida and representatives of the entire supply chain.

In welcoming those present, Alessia Zucchi introduced the meaning of the day: to mark an important step in the growth path of Italian olive oil. A growth path to which Alessia and Giovanni contribute with the strength and passion inherited from their recently deceased father Vito, who was a key figure and example of enlightened entrepreneurship for the entire Italian and international olive oil world.

Next, Prof. Giovanni Mattia (Roma Tre University ) presented the research on the "Perceived sustainability of EVO Oil: the Consumer's point of view", from which a better and more effective interaction between production and consumption emerged as a fundamental need.

A reference to the role of the institutions, which the Minister of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forests, Hon. Francesco Lollobrigida effectively resumed in his speech.

In fact, the Minister underlined how, given the lower production linked in recent years to objective causes such as drought and the spread of Xylella fastidiosa in Puglia, the decision to focus on sustainability would make it possible to reverse the trend with a medium-long term strategy , or in any case to distinguish Italy for what is its greatest peculiarity: quality.


"Sustainability in the olive-oil supply chain: the voice of the experts looking to the future"

The first round table highlighted the purpose and value of the "Guidelines", collecting the opinions of the members of the Scientific Committee that contributed to their drafting, on some of the fundamental aspects concerning the sustainability of the olive and oil supply chain. The moderator Pietro Senaldi (co-director of the newspaper Libero) , in presenting the group of speakers, underlined the overall value of the various professionals and of the networking and coordination achieved between the various universities, in dialogue with the stakeholders.

Several elements of interest emerged, bearing witness to the great work done. Prof Ettore Capri (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart) highlighted how the competitiveness of our olive oil supply chain can no longer be based solely on the intrinsic quality of the product, but must be supported by an approach which, combining modernity and tradition, develops on the axis fundamental to sustainability. Moreover, with reference to environmental sustainability, Prof. Antonio Finizio (University of Milan Bicocca ) emphasized how the Italian olive cultivation has peculiarities which, in the spirit of the Guidelines, could transform it into a virtuous model, starting from elements today considered fragile. The same agricultural and productive fragmentation that has always characterized our supply chain, while on the one hand can make its management more complex, on the other offers exceptional opportunities for enhancing biodiversity and the territory. On the contrary, underlined Prof. Fabio Iraldo (Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa ), a further element characterizing these Guidelines is precisely in the fact that sustainability is not seen as an element that ends within the supply chain itself, but rather as a way of operating that places the olive oil supply chain in a network dimension with all the subjects who create value in the area. In this sense, integration with parallel and complementary food supply chains, enhancement of the landscape, synergy with tourist and restaurant facilities are just some of the elements considered to give substance to sustainability also on an economic and social level.

Without forgetting nutritional sustainability, on which Prof. Raffaele Sacchi (University of Naples Federico II ) insisted who, describing the recognized health prerogatives of Italian extra virgin olive oil, highlighted how it is able to respond better and better to the growing demand for well-being that consumers express and which is a manifestation of the need for true sustainability, considered in all its aspects. In this regard, Dr. Luna Aristei (Luiss Guido Carli Rome) recalled how the regulatory scenario in which the Guidelines are placed has seen several developments in terms of sustainability in recent years. Alongside the technical rules relating to production, distribution and trade, an element of particular attention - also mentioned by Minister Lollobrigida - concerns the rules intended to regulate communication to consumers. The development of sustainability labels and the front pack label envisaged by the Farm to Fork strategy are today the terrain of a bitter confrontation which highlights the enormous importance of dialogue with consumers.


First part: "Sustainability in the olive-oil supply chain: the foundations"

The Guidelines have been formulated on the basis of a careful analysis of what already exists and are also the result of discussions with those who, in recent years, have laid the foundations for promoting sustainability as a growth driver in the olive oil supply chain, providing important contributions for a systemic approach, which does not neglect any link in the supply chain itself. In the initial part of the second round table, the moderator Pietro Senaldi therefore called on the speakers to testify the experience of some of the most important national realities active certainly not from today on the theme of sustainability.