Jean-Louis Barjol is the newly appointed executive director of the International Olive Council in Madrid. For the past two years, he served as deputy director for the IOC in the Administrative and Financial, and the Survey and Assessment divisions.
Before joining IOC, Barjol was the director general of the Comité Européen des Fabricants de Sucre (CEFS) known as the European Committee of Sugar Manufacturers.
He will head this international, intergovernmental body until December 2014 looking at policy making issues and facing the challenge of bringing olive producing countries to work more effectively together.
Barjol holds a Master’s degree in agricultural economics from the Institut National Agronomique de Paris and was knighted Chevalier du Mérite Agricole Français for his services in Spain between 1995 and 1998.
He is married with two children. He enjoys reading historical books; he feels we can learn much by studying the trends, customs and habits of past generations.
We spoke with Mr. Barjol by telephone.
Mr. Barjol, your first official visit was to the United States where you attended the North American Olive Oil Association’s (NAOOA) mid-year meeting. What are IOC’s plans to promote olive oil there? Is this a priority market for IOC?
The US is the world’s largest market for imports of olive oil if you consider the EU as one market and ignore intra-EU trade.
For me, developing this market is a top priority. We hope to begin a campaign in July this year for the promotion of olive oil and table olives in North America for 2011 and 2012.
Invitations to tenders will be sent out as early as April this year and an agency will be selected for the launch in the United States and Canada. IOC plans to spend 1.2 million euros on the project.
Australia is considering the adoption of standards that depart from IOC. Is this a concern for you? Do you find this worrying?
It’s worrying for them, not for us. Australia does not belong to the IOC. For reasons I don’t understand, they have never wanted to become a member. They use our laboratories every year; they attend our meetings and they come to be recognized by IOC for their competence in chemical and sensory characteristics.
I say it’s worrying for them because after all, 98 percent of the world’s export comes from members of IOC.
Why do you think this is happening?
I’m not sure. Australians are quite demanding but in this specific case they are not respecting IOC and Codex standards; there are quite a few discrepancies which seem to favor home producers more than importers.
Could you give me an example of one discrepancy?
The Australian limit for campestoral of 4.8 percent is higher than the IOC and Codex standard which fixes a limit of 4 percent.