The Technical Division performs a range of tasks. Amongst other things, it stimulates research and development and promotes the transfer of technology and training to modernise olive growing and the olive products industry and to improve product quality. But its job does not stop there. It also recommends the application of standards for the physical, chemical and organoleptic characteristics of olive oils and olive-pomace oils and table olives and the harmonisation of methods of analysis.
How does it do all this? By implementing R & D projects, convening meetings and seminars, publishing guides and practical handbooks, organising training activities and providing technical assistance.
This spectrum of activities is planned and monitored by the Olive Oil Chemistry & Standards Setting Unit and two departments (for R&D + environment and training & technical assistance) which make up the Technical Division.
OLIVE OIL CHEMISTRY & STANDARDS SETTING UNIT
This unit’s name gives a clear idea of what it does. It is responsible for drawing up standards for olive oils and table olives and management guides for industry as well as for developing chemical and sensory testing methods for the same products and for running a recognition scheme for testing laboratories and tasting panels wishing to prove their proficiency in applying recommended methods of analysis by participating in regular check tests. Other features of its work include organising the IOC Mario Solinas Quality Award to reward the best in extra virgin olive oil production and coordinating the quality control programme for olive oils and olive-pomace oils sold on import markets.
TRAINING & TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE DEPARTMENT
Organising multi-tiered courses to update the knowledge of technical officers from IOC member countries is one facet of this department’s job.
Several types of courses are held: international university training, national seminars or courses, organoleptic assessment courses, field trips and inhouse training opportunities.
The department also arranges for expert assignments to the member countries to provide them with technical assistance.
R & D + ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT
This department looks to promote the use of modern techniques in the olive orchard and later at the olive oil mill and table olive processing facility, all with the aim of increasing production, lowering costs, upgrading quality and protecting the environment. Its interest spans every area of olive growing: from breeding to propagation, from pest and disease control to irrigation, from pruning to harvesting, from olive oil production to by-product recycling, … Each question may be approached in different ways, for instance through projects carried out in the member countries, technical publications and guides and occasionally international seminars.