Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Characterising edible oils

Although the worldwide edible oils market is large, a comprehensive comparison of oils and knowledge of funding opportunities on the part of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is lacking. EU researchers developed an international partnership to assess oil properties and manufacturing methods and standards to highlight critical aspects and enhance safety, quality and competitiveness.
Characterising edible oils
Consumer demand for edible oils is evolving based on new health research and pricing of various oils. In many countries producing edible oils, the supply chain includes small producers, small specialty shops (ateliers) and SMEs that have varying standards for quality, safety and environmental impact.

In order to increase competitiveness of SMEs and of the economies to which they contribute, EU researchers identified the need for an international collaboration focusing on the needs of companies in the edible oils market. Thus, they developed the ‘Mapping and comparing oils’ (MAC-OILS) project.

The partnership included the EU, Latin America and the Mediterranean. Oil ateliers, SMEs, large companies, government representatives and policymakers collaborated to design a technological audit questionnaire in order to highlight critical aspects of oil properties as well as of cultivation, extraction, production, conservation and packaging of eight different edible oils. In addition, the researchers focused on potential alternatives to olive oil based on health characteristics such as content of monounsaturated fatty acids, oleic acid and anti-oxidants.

The MAC-OILS project successfully developed a network strengthening international cooperation on topics of food safety and quality related to edible oils. Project scientists supported SMEs and encouraged their participation in future research projects through information regarding Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) funding opportunities. Moreover, they made important recommendations for marketing alternatives to olive oil based on consumer preferences and pricing. Finally, the researchers established a project website to provide free access to project information and outcomes to all interested parties.

given that the edible oils industry is very important to many economies in Europe, Latin America and the Mediterranean but that knowledge and standards were heretofore lacking, the MAC-OILS project outcomes should provide a significant boost to these economies while enhancing the quality and safety of oils reaching consumers’ tables.

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