An event to launch Ateek Olive Oil, produced from ancient trees of rare Olive Variety Al Mehrasn, took place in Jordan and participants included Their Excellencies Jordanian Minister of Agriculture, Jordanian Minister of Tourism as well as Ambassador to the Netherlands. 
The event was organised by JOPEA (Jordan Olive Exporters Association) and Mercy Corp where Tala Saket, Silver Associate and Honorary member of the Savantes Register, presented an independent olive oil tasting session for the audience.  Following the tasting session, the participants were then given Ateek Olive Oil to taste by the Association. 

Clearing out some dusty books I came across a 2011 publication sponsored by the European Union and Spain entitled ‘The surprisingly, marvellous, savoury, curious, healthy, historic, artistic and fantastic world of Olive Oil’. It is a beautiful informative book. The first significant pictorial of food comes on the 27th page. The preceding pages are full of production data, varietals, mythology, olive oil classifications and pictures of the olive groves of Spain stretching to the horizon.

The question is; does it sell olive oil to the consumer or is it a little self-indulgent, trying to satisfy those who paid for it first, the publisher, the producer organisations, the politicians and secondly persuade, incidentally, consumers? Is it trying to portray each of the facets described in the title? I am sure it has made money for the graphic artists, the designers, the authors and the administrators – I question the return to producers? My observation is that in the last 10 years since the publication of this book our narrative has not changed.

We hear endlessly of the Mediterranean diet pyramid in the context of olive oil sales.  Analysis of Google Trends in the USA shows that a slight upward trend in searches on the Diet does not seem to lead to increased searches for olive oil.

There are many reasons given for the current oversupply of olive oil around the world – tariffs, trade agreements, loss of consumer confidence and the ubiquitous absence of educated consumers. Most of these are out of the control of the producers.

Contributing to this oversupply is declining or stagnant consumption in the main consuming countries – Spain, Italy, Greece and the USA.

There is one consideration which we observe in tasting extra virgin olive oils in Savantes programmes which does not get much attention. That is the question of whether the drive for quality defined by chemical parameters is producing a robust and bitter style and flavour of extra virgin olive oil which consumers do not like.

Simon Field, August 2017

One of the unexpected benefits of participating in a Savantes tasting is the occasional opportunity to experience something beyond evaluating olive oil. Such an opportunity arose when attendees at the Seville programme were invited to visit the Juan Ramón Guillén Foundation museum on the outskirts of the city. Our host was Juan González of Hacienda Guzmán, who participated in the Seville programme.

The Foundation was founded in 2011 with the purpose of bringing the rural sector closer to the public with special emphasis on the olive sector. The centrepiece is the Hacienda Guzmán from which the brand of quality extra virgin olive oils takes its name. Six centuries ago, Hernando, the son of Christopher Columbus, produced olive oil on the estate and exported it to America.

Hacienda Guzmán

The stately house is the home to the olive oil museum with a massive beam olive oil press and many of