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Effect of geographical conditions (altitude and pedology) and age of olive plantations on the typicality of olive oil in Moulay Driss Zarhoun

Siham Rouas, Mohammed Rahmani, Abdrraouf El Antari, lahoussaine E Baamal, Drissia Janati Idrissi, Abdelaziz Souizi, Nadia Maata


The exact authentication of virgin olive oil (VOO) origin becomes one of the priorities of the international community, both at the legislative and commercial levels. It also concerns the ultimate destination of this product, at the consumer’s level. The uses of geographical indications are considered a reliable way to guarantee the traceability of this product.

The objective of the present work is to study the resultant effect of the geographical area (altitude and pedologic conditions) and age of olive plantations on the typicality of VOO produced in Moulay Driss Zarhoun (MDZ), with the ultimate objective to attribute a protected designation of origin (PDO) to the oil. Previous recommendations of such PDO were based on a set of characteristics (typicality, originality, knowledge of production, fame, and a strong historic anchoring) according to the Moroccan  Law (n°25/06). This law, dealing with the recognition and protection of distinctive signs of origin and quality (DSOQ), established the legal framework of protected geographical indications (PGI), PDO, and agricultural labels (AL).

The present research deals with the chemical characterization of VOO from MDZ, mainly its pigment and total phenolic contents, the composition in fatty acids (FA) and triacylglycerols (TAG). Based on chemometric techniques, the interpretation of the results will allow drawing the fingerprints of VOO originating from MDZ. 

The study was carried out during the 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 crop years and concerned 57 representative olive orchards in the MDZ area. The olives were hand-picked from different trees, at three different classes of altitudes (<300m, 300-600m, 600-900m), at three categories of age (<30 years, 30-50 years, more than 50 years), and in different types of soil. The analysis revealed high contents in total phenols, monounsaturated FA, and triolein. The quantitative differences observed in all analyzed parameters could be attributed in general to altitude and limestone percentage of soil. The impact of age in the determination of typicality of the VOO remains insignificant.

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