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EVOOlution, a singular technological project for the optical sorting of each and every olive

Castillo de Canena and Multiscan Technologies have teamed up to create EVOOlution, a singular technological project for the optical sorting of each and every olive

  • The EVOOlution project is backed by a budget of over a million Euros, 75% of which is financed by the EU’s H2020 Research and Innovation programme
  • Top-quality extra virgin olive oil is assured thanks to each olive being classified on a ripeness scale and by the presence – or absence – of any defects
  • This season, EVOOlution was used for the early production of Castillo de Canena’s premium oils, with each olive sorted individually. Multiscan technology can visually analyse up to 25 tonnes of olives per hour (12.5 million fruits)

Castillo de Canena, the indisputable leader in the production and sale of high-end extra virgin olive oils, and Multiscan Technologies, the world’s number one provider of technological solutions for the sorting and classification of table olives, have teamed up to create EVOOlution; a singular technological project for checking and sorting olives for pressing which, by classifying each olive on a ripeness scale and by the presence, or absence of, any defects, ensures that premium oils will are of the highest quality.

During the 2019 and 2020 seasons, two different EVOOlution prototypes were used at Castillo de Canena’s olive press to test, in situ, the different stages of ripeness of the olives, as well as different kinds of damage.

The first phase of the test, carried out between November 2018 and January 2019, was aimed at identifying possible existing defects in the olives that could affect the quality of the oil produced, as well as at an initial assessment of the classification and sorting of the olives as a tool to ensure the very best quality.

During this stage, the impact of certain defects was identified. Defects included frozen, fusty, or dried out olives, those affected by fungi, as well as underdeveloped olives, all of which influenced the end quality of the oil. This gave rise to the development of the first step of this technology – one which can sort large quantities of olives one by one.

The phenological levels looked at varied on the ripeness scale from 3 to 6, and the classification process worked satisfactorily. At this moment of the season, sorting is essential because it allows technicians at the olive press to ensure that the production of extra virgin olive oils will be of the highest quality.

For the next phase of the test, carried out between September and December during the 2019 season, EVOOlution was used during the early production of Castillo de Canena’s premium oil – exclusively with olives grown by us and using a very controlled production process. The goal of this step was to validate EVOOlution’s performance within the processing line and the efficiency of the technology carried out in the first phase of the project.

At this stage during the season it is important to detect and eliminate specific defects, such as fruit-fly damage, or damage caused by weather conditions that are impossible to predict but which can mean significant losses in batches of olives. In addition, EVOOlution allows olives to be checked and sorted according to 7 phenological aspects, something that is of great help in the production of premium oils made with olives at different stages of ripeness.

During the test, EVOOlution was able to work extremely efficiently with 18-20 tonnes of olives per hour while detecting fruit with fruit-fly damage, dehydrated and fermented fruit, as well as detecting other undesirable elements, such as twigs. Furthermore, it was used to sort levels of ripeness from 0 to 5, allowing the technician at the olive press to check the ripeness of production.

Castillo de Canena is exceptional for its innovative nature and for its commitment to producing extra virgin olive oils of the highest quality. The company thus believes that introducing new technologies is key to the way olive oils are made and to ensure high-end products. The company’s managing director, Francisco Vañó, firmly believes that ‘innovation and continuous research are business values that our firm always bears in mind. On the path to excellence you must progress without stopping when it comes to technology and you must use the most high-precision machinery.’

Rosa Vañó, sales and marketing director, commented that ‘this project – which is a pioneer in the world of extra virgin olive oils – involves taking a huge step as it is key for continuing to ensure that we offer the best EVOOs to consumers, who are ever more knowledgeable and eager to learn. Guaranteeing a unique, different and special gastronomic experience must, without a shadow of a doubt, involve innovation and research in projects such as EVOOlution.’

Multiscan Technologies, the leading technological provider of solutions for the sorting and classification of table olives, is enthusiastic about conveying its in-depth experience to the olive oil sector. With over two decades of experience in the development of artificial vision-based products and X-rays for the food industry, it has supplied over 1,200 equipment facilities on five continents. Multiscan says that EVOOlution is ‘a tool for achieving quality oils consistently, and in a controlled way, as it eliminates fruit that could introduce defects into its organoleptic properties.’

The EVOOlution project will last two years and is made up of 4 testing phases. The last stage, prior to the industrialisation of the final outcome, will be tested during the coming season in Chile (May 2020).

The olive oil market in Spain is characterised by price instability. Despite the very high quality of many of its oils, and being the world’s leading producer, Spanish oils are not associated with high-value products and high profitability. Both Castillo de Canena and Multiscan are aware that implementing new technologies and being committed to creating products with a high added value are strategies that companies in the sector must pursue if they want to stand out and ensure competitiveness.

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