Deoleo, maker of the best-selling olive oil, has once again taken the lead in the industry by announcing a firm commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. .
Describing a remarkable and potentially game-changing move for the future of the olive oil business, Chief Commercial Officer Miguel de Jaime said the decision to align with the UN goals signals Deoleo’s recognition that its vigorous efforts to “transform the industry” are part and parcel of global measures being taken to bring positive benefits to the world in which we live.
In a recent interview with the website FoodNavigator, de Jaime said Deoleo’s decision to commit to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would help it develop protocols for its olive growers in a bid to boost sustainability for the future of the olive oil business, one based on consumer trust in high quality.
Deoleo’s sustainability protocols align with 12 out of the 17 goals enshrined by the UN, including zero hunger, quality education, gender equality, climate action, and life on land. The main thrust of the protocols is to achieve 100% sustainably produced olive oil by 2023 for 80% of Deoleo oils, to achieve this, the company has signed agreements with several farmers’ cooperatives committed to sustainable production, including the Almaliva Group of mills of the Subbética (Córdoba), the Union of Small Farmers (UPA) and Viñaoliva (Badajoz).
“We realized that the current model worldwide is not sustainable,” de Jaime was quoted as saying. “As a business model, there is an oversupply of olive oil, because every 10 seconds, one new olive tree is planted in the world. This means there will be an imbalance between production and demand.”
The concern is that an oversupply would drive down prices, hurting everyone “from the farmers to the bottlers and retailers”. It would also weaken the industry’s focus on quality. “Our company is striving to create a category that pays attention to high quality and to differentiated and sustainable products of extra virgin olive oil.”
One key thrust in transforming production is persuading all growers to harvest their olives earlier in the season, in October and November. The environment benefits too, since earlier harvesting gives the trees “more time to grow better olives for the coming year, so that you don’t exhaust the tree. We pay for the decision to have better olive oil.” Miguel de Jaime said. Deoleo also encourages its growers to plant a “green carpet” of grass between the trees, which helps keeps insects away from the olives and attracts birds to the groves. Farmers are being taught how to make the most efficient use of their land and water.
Deoleo has partnered with third-party firm Intertek to audit and certify its protocols and processes. Once certified, the bottles will carry a seal that communicates the sustainability message to shoppers.
Consumers can “expect a product that is more tasty, unique in flavor and aroma, ethically sourced and of guaranteed quality,” de Jaime said. “By consuming this product, you are contributing to Mother Nature, you are buying something that is sustainable for the earth and for local communities.”
What’s more, these moves will result in no price hike at the market, he said. “We will take the financial hit. We are not raising the prices due to the sustainability protocols … but in the end, I think we need to come to a business model in the category that’s different from today’s.”