The extra virgin olive oil shipped into space has returned to Earth and is.... very fine. Gravity and cosmic rays have had no effect on its quality despite the six months spent on the International Space Station together with ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti: in fact, its valuable nutritional and health characteristics have remained unchanged.
The results of the experiment were presented at the Coldiretti Village of Cosenza, in Calabria, as part of the project "EVOO in Space: Extra-Virgin Olive Oil in Space (EVOOS)", included in the framework of the agreement between the Italian Space Agency and Crea in collaboration with Coldiretti and Unaprol-Consorzio Olivicolo Italiano.
The sample was analyzed in Calabria at the Rende headquarters of the Olive, Fruit and Citrus Research Center of Crea, where it was compared with those of the same oil stored in the same packages remained on the ground.
A unique experiment in the world that also offers information on the stability of extra virgin olive oil and on the shelf life in space environmental conditions.
Thanks to the coordination of ASI, the samples selected by Coldiretti and Unaprol had arrived on the ISS last July, together with four extra virgin olive oils that Samantha Cristoforetti, the first European woman to become commander of the ISS, had chosen as part of her bonus food, or selected food that every astronaut can choose to take with him, to supplement the standard diet provided.
These oils share a high content of natural antioxidants and, in particular, olive biophenols, indispensable for those who, like astronauts, are subjected to conditions of intense psycho-physical stress.
Extra virgin olive oil
Our oil in the world
In 30 years, exports of Italian olive oil to the world have almost tripled (+170%), reaching in 2022 the amount of almost 360 million kilos. This is what emerges from a Coldiretti analysis on Istat data released to the peasant village of Cosenza on the occasion of the return to earth after 6 months of stay in orbit of the samples of extra virgin olive oil.
The first target market for Made in Italy olive oil is the United States with 110 million kilos of product sold in 2022; followed by Germany for 45 million kilos, France with 34 million kilos. Japan and Canada also performed well, respectively with almost 20 million kilos and 19 million kilos, ahead of Great Britain with 16 million kilos.
A success fueled by a heritage of biodiversity unique in the world with 533 varieties of olives grown from the Alps to Sicily for a total of 250 million plants from which the largest number of extra virgin olive oils with denomination in Europe is born with 42 PDO and 7 PGI as well as dozens of zero km productions linked to the territories with a wealth of aromas and flavors that has no equal in the world. In addition to the positive health effects associated with its consumption proven by numerous scientific studies.