In the production of a high quality olive oil, harvest time, way of collecting olives and reception management practices are key factors that affect strongly the quality of the final product.
In the olive oil mills olives are received and generally classified according to some of their characteristics in order to produce different types of olive oil e.g. monovarietal or specific blends. Two main operations take place upon reception for the preparation of the olives, the cleaning and washing.
The cleaning operation deals with the removal of the low-density waste and impurities from the collection during harvesting. The washing stage instead consists of the removal of high-density waste e.g. stone, sand which can cause significant damage to the machinery used if not removed.
The water use in the washing stage ranges from 15% to 34% of the total water use within the olive oil mill, depending on the equipment requirements as well as local operational conditions and applied technology/practices. Moreover, at this stage, the waste water generated has high BOD levels and requires treatment before its discharge.
This best practice presents management ways of reducing the need for olives to be washed before processed into olive oil. Manufacturers can achieve this practice by setting up an appropriate cooperation with the farmers providing the olives.