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by MASSIMO GARGANO, President of Unaprol

Thousands of years of olive growing traditions have made Italy a great producing country, with a flair for quality, a connection with the land, its enogastronomic traditions and its characteristic and varied landscape. Thanks to over 350 different varieties of olives, the country is able to express many different flavours, fragrances and sensations that make Italy a unique and exclusive olive grove with all its regional and local diversities. This passion has made more than one million three hundred thousand producers become the custodians and keepers of over 220 million trees.


Over the years, a strong entrepreneurial determination resulted in modern olive growing systems aimed at offering consumers market transparency, quality and a refined product. This determination has been made even stronger and possible thanks to the approval, on October 9th of 2007, of the decree regarding mandatory specification of origin, as published in the Official Gazette no. 243 of 18 October 2007.

This is the Italian olive oil system that Unaprol - Italian olive grower's association - has striven to assist and promote throughout the years. A national organization, with a legal status of a co-operative, established in 1966, with 72 member organizations of local producers, which in turn represent over 650 thousand olive farms.

An organization that was established thanks to the vital contribution of Coldiretti and Confagricoltura, so as to promote a product that is synonymous with Italy throughout the world, and so as to take advantage of the new regulations of the Community to develop a new and improved approach to the market and a new source of profit for olive farmers.

Amongst Unaprol's other objectives, there are specific activities and programmes being carried out:

  • - providing technical assistance to member producers so as to improve olive oil quality, especially in regards to extra virgin olive oil production;
  • - improving all techniques that have an impact on the environment, both at the farm and in the oil mill;
  • - organizing and improving production including through certification systems for PDOs, PGIs and Organic production;
  • - traceability, from the place of production to the bottling facility;
  • - training, creating awareness and providing professional updates to member olive growers, as well as oil mill operators and technicians working in the field of assisting olive farming;
  • - promoting extra virgin olive oil culture at the consumer level and at a few important links for spreading oil culture, such as restaurants, wine shops, dieticians etc.
  • - promoting research, innovation, development and implementation of new technologies for improving production quality, lowering production costs and diminishing environmental impact.

These programmes, especially the one that regards traceability, are very important, because they provide consumers with a series of precise data regarding the origin of the product and how to make the most of it, thus satisfying certain requirements that are becoming ever more important at the time of making a purchase decision.

In fact, with Unaprol's traceability project, by simply punching in a code found on extra virgin olive oil bottles from participating farms, either by SMS or through the internet, consumers can find out the place of origin of the olives, the farms involved, the olive varieties, the oil mill where they were processed, the organoleptic and sensory properties of a specific extra virgin and suggested enogastronomic uses.

This project is today ever more important and significant because of the Ministerial decree regarding mandatory origin.

Our members are very conscious of the specific commitments by olive farmers and millers to comply with specific regulations for producing, harvesting, processing, storing and bottling, as established in Unaprol's program. Today, over 300 olive oil production chains represent almost 6000 farms, which have obtained the traceability certificate by a third party certification body.

Unaprol has always considered that a product's success and popularity amongst Italian and foreign families depends on a specific decision: that of establishing a commitment to the consumer in regards to clarity, transparency, quality and the identification of a product with the land from where it originates.

That is why we have always taken a great interest in the mandatory indication of the origin of the raw material (the olives) on the label. That is why we are pleased with the national decree that makes that mandatory, and we hope that, thanks to our efforts, a similar measure will be taken at the Community level.

Our traceability program represents a concrete and modern contribution in carrying out the decree, allowing producers to follow specific procedures, the public administration to carry out the necessary controls and inspections, and giving consumers the opportunity to be informed, to choose and to enrich their taste and senses.