- Fruits: olives
- Education and Training: technical assistance
- Farm Business Management: market study
- Sustainable Communities: social networks
Olives are one of the most agronomically and environmentally sustainable crops in the West: low pest pressure and low nutrient needs mean low inputs; low to no water needs; excellent year-round carbon sequestration (29kg CO2/tree/year). Olives are a viable permanent crop on small/family farms, particularly in multi-cropping systems or in conjunction with pasturing. This makes olives good for beginning, small, or underserved farmers, which makes olives good for diversity and equity in agriculture. The problem faced by olive growers/producers of olive oil in Oregon, and more generally in the Western region, is the intense pricing competition from very large producers from Mediterranean countries. Oregon/Western region farmers are at a significant disadvantage. They need help to make olive-growing economically sustainable. Here, smart marketing is key. Which arguments to use? Which consumer preferences to leverage? How to market the agronomic and environmental sustainability of olives? How to market the superior health benefits of extra virgin olive oil produced from olives grown in cooler, shorter seasons (such as in Oregon)? How to market the fact that Oregon olives are hand-harvested, which preserves their superb phenolic compounds? This is why we need this project. PI Caceu, a small olive grower/producer of olive oil in Oregon, and TA Colonna, the Sensory Program Director at the OSU Food Innovation Center, will answer these questions in a detailed report with specific recommendations for branding and marketing arguments. Scientific data from the Linus Pauling Institute will also be included in the report (and will be published in the Journal of Food Science). The report and the educational outreach will help sharpen the marketing edge that U.S. growers/producers need. Education/outreach will be conducted at events such as the OSU Small Farms Conference, the OSU Sustainable Food Manufacturing Forum, and at the annual meeting of the Oregon Olive Growers Association.
Project objectives from proposal:
For a visual representation of our project's research and education objectives, please see the flow chart: WSARE La Creole Orchards project flow chart
- PI Caceu and TA Colonna will produce a detailed report based on data from focus groups with consumers (these focus groups will have been undertaken within a project previously funded by USDA Rural Development that will yield data by July 2023, ahead of this proposed WSARE project).
- This detailed report will include specific, actionable recommendations for branding and marketing arguments that Oregon olive growers/producers of olive oil should use to increase the competitiveness of their marketing. Oregon growers/producers, and more generally growers/producers throughout the Western region, face tremendous competition from low-priced imported olive oil from very large producers abroad. Therefore, Oregon growers/producers must find the smartest, most potent marketing arguments to convince consumers to favor olive oils produced in Oregon from Oregon-grown olives.
- The marketing arguments contained in the report are expected to emphasize the agronomic and environmental sustainability of olives grown in Oregon, and in the Western region in general, as well as the social dimension implications of olive cultivation, and the superior health benefits of olive oil produced from olives grown sustainably in Oregon, and more generally in the Western region.
- The recommendations contained in the report are expected to help Oregon growers/producers build the social capital and social networks that they need in order to create stronger and longer-lasting connections with consumers.
- Overall, the primary goal of this proposed project is to help increase the marketing power of local olive oil and thereby increase the economic sustainability of local farmers.
- PI Caceu will coordinate with the Linus Pauling Institute the scientific portion of the proposed project.
- The Linus Pauling Institute will measure phenolic compounds and vitamins E and K in samples of U.S. olive oils as well as imported olive oils available on the market, to generate data that is expected to support the premise that Oregon olive oils have significantly higher levels of these healthful compounds.
- This grant will permit the first-ever comprehensive scientific comparison of healthful compounds in olive oils based on their provenance, with samples of olive oils from each U.S. state that produces olive oil (California, Oregon, Arizona, Hawaii, Texas, Georgia, and Florida) and representative samples of imported olive oils available on the market.
- PI Caceu and TA Colonna will present the proposed project's results at education/outreach events such as the OSU Small Farms Conference, at the OSU Sustainable Food Manufacturing Forum, at an outreach event at the OSU Food Innovation Center, and at the annual meeting of the Oregon Olive Growers Association.
- PI Caceu will coordinate with the Linus Pauling Institute the preparation of a manuscript and its submission for publication in the Journal of Food Science (or a similar peer-reviewed scientific journal).