DEMO 2 – Agro-industry NUTRIA – Greece
Sector 2. Olive Oil
Demonstration of an IBLC in the olive oil sector for the production of oil, solid biomass, particle boards and chemicals based on olive tree prunings and olive pomace.
~ 10000 t of standardized and refined olive oil, pomace oil and seed oils
Main actors involved
CERTH and INASO-PASAGES
NUTRIA is a highly sophisticated, vertically integrated unit that produces standardized olive oil, olive pomace oil and seed oils in all varieties of packaging. NUTRIA is situated at the one end of the olive oil value chain, with the olive tree farmers being on the other end. The olive tree cultivations in Greece are highly fragmented; as an indication, in the area of NUTRIA, the local cooperative has 210 registered members and about 750 ha of olive groves (corresponding to 3,6 ha/farmer or 612 olive trees per farmer on average).
Farmers collect olives from late October – December; if the purpose of the cultivation is olive oil production, they sell their product to local olive mills, which usually are of a relatively small production capacity. Olive mills also operate on a seasonal basis (October – March) and have limited storage capacity for their olive oil product; additionally, they lack the capacity to standardize their product in order to meet the market demands, especially in foreign markets.
Intermediate bulk traders purchase olive oil from the olive mills and transport it via tanker trucks to the NUTRIA production site, where it can be stored for longer time periods.
NUTRIA is capable of performing the necessary refining and standardization steps before the marketing of the olive oil; additionally, through its chemical laboratory ensures the quality control of the raw material and final product, monitors critical points in the production and supplies certificates of analysis as required by the end markets.
Traceability procedures apply so that NUTRIA can produce olive oil with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) or Protected Geographic Indication (PGI).
In future, the existing chain is planning to create a highly integrated logistics centre to complement their activity with the production of solid biomass and the biochemical, expanding their business over unused resources and solving problems that these resources generate.
The company is highly interested to assess the following additional opportunities within the AGROinLOG project:
Use of olive tree prunings as a feedstock for the production of solid biofuels / bio-commodities. Currently, olive tree prunings in Greece (with the exception of larger pieces which are used as firewood) are usually either mulched (following no agronomic practice) or gathered aside in the fields for burning. In the proposed exploitation concept, farmers will take advantage to this unused resource, harvesting, pre-treating their prunings and collecting them in the oil mills from late December to March as an intermediate storage.
Final treatment to adequate to the quality characteristics of the market (drying and pelletising) will be performed at NUTRIA site. For the drying step, the unused capacity of the dryer for the exhausted olive mill cake will be utilized.
The processes olive tree prunings can then be supplied as a solid biofuel to the Greek heating market or, alternatively, considered as a feedstock for the production of particle boards.
Extraction of useful chemicals from residual streams. In particular, the exhausted olive mill cake produced by the TPOMW treatment unit has a high phenol content; the presence of phenols is an inhibitor to the anaerobic digestion process; therefore, the inclusion of a phenol extraction step would not only increase the performance of the anaerobic digestor, but would also provide a useful chemical for applications in industrial sectors such as the pharmaceutical or cosmetics industry.
Valorization of 8,5 kt/yr of raw materials which are currently unexploited (olive tree prunings) and that can be “purchased” from the farmers for little to no cost, since they would avoid their current management costs.
Turnover: increase by around 1 M€ (assuming that NUTRIA brings into the market 5 kt/y of olive pruning pellets with a price of at 200 €/t). This does not include the potential from revenue increase from the production of other bio-chemicals / bio-commodities.
Avoid seasonality in the operation of the dryer. A preliminary investigation foresees that the dryer will be operated from February till at least June, instead of the initial four months operating period (November – February).
To attend the increasing demand of solid biofuels by obtaining an additional quantity of 5 kt/y of pruning pellets, NUTRIA will increase the amount of solid biofuels it brings on the market by 125%.