The Olive Seed, A New Natural 'Super' Ingredient

The oil from the fruit of the olive tree has long been known as essential part of Mediterranean cuisine which is now popular all over the world. As well as its distinctive flavor, olive oil is also associated with many health benefits thanks to its high level of polyphenols, it has been proven to reduce cholesterol and have a positive effect on blood pressure.

Pioneering olive company Grupo Elayo is turning this traditional sector into innovation making use of the health-enhancing bioactive components found in olives for some of their newest applications. In order to do this, they extract the seeds from the fruit's hard stone using SORTEX sorting technology from Bühler. 

Based in The Andalusian province of Jaén, Spain – one of the biggest and most important olive oil growing regions in the world, Grupo Elayo was founded in 2012 by José Maria Olmo Peinado, an engineer and economist, who has worked in the olive sector for over years. Peinado says he is completely committed to innovation: “We are developing new products and applications from various parts of the olive including certain by-products – not only in the field of food, but also for the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.”

Since discovering that the seed within the olive stone contains up to 100 times more polyphenols and antioxidants than conventional olive oil Peinado came up with the idea of extracting the olive seeds and using them for new products and applications in the food and cosmetics industry. “In the past, we have simply discarded the stones as a waste product,” explains Peinado, “So I decided to invest in a processing line to clean, dry, crack open and sort the olive stones from the seeds. However, problems started at the sorting stage. As the seeds and the stones are practically the same color, none of the sorting technologies that we had installed were able to distinguish between them reliably,” he recalls. 
It was not possible to sort out the good seeds for further processing, however Peinado was not about to give up and he got in touch with specialists at Buhler Sortex, who have 70 years of experience in developing optical sorting solutions for various applications and industries.
After several months of intensive trials, the London optical sorting research and applications department made a breakthrough. Using special InGaAs technology, they found that it was possible to distinguish the olive seeds from the stones as well as from the seeds with embedded stone fragments, thus laying the foundation for a successful extraction process. More