Q&A With IOC Director Jean-Louis Barjol

International Olive Council executive director Jean-Louis Barjol (file photo)

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.


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This article was last updated November 13, 2014 - 9:45 AM (GMT-5)

  • Phyllis Heard

    Australia does not support the IOC standards on campesterol becuse they have very high levels of campesterol in their fruit due to the bulk of their commercial supergroves being planted in Barnea and Koreneiki both varietals register levels that often exceed IOC standards for campesterol. Some Australian “experts” claim campesterol has health benefits as they are believed to be a natural steroid or statin. Given the controversy on the efficacy of “statins” in heart disease it is a very long bow to draw to suggest campesterol is healthy.As a New Zealand olive grower I prefer the IOC /codex standards as the Australian and Californian judges definitions of “fruitiness and balance” are designed to suit their oils and are disadvantaging our Tuscan style oils in New Zealand.I agree with Mr Barjol The Australian judges were all happy enough to be trained by the IOC and given that the U.S style of food production seems to have given us all a global obesity epidemic I prefer “standards” to remain under the UN umbrella.The Australian producers and judges can only claim a moral superiority over the IOC and EU if they are absolutely sure that all extra virgins are the same and the world is waiting with open arms for their “style” of oil. I think the world is waiting for pesticide, agrichem free oil grown with sustainable water and produced with low carbon emissions in healthy soils.

  • Richard Gawel

    Speaking of ‘long bows’ To suggest to readers that one of the most widely distributed natural sterols in the plant kingdom is in some way related to the pharmaceutical statins is in my opinion reckless. Statins are not even sterols, nor are they even remotely natural. They are a class of compounds created and manufactured by drug companies as cholesterol lowering agents. Lipitor by the drug giant Pfizer is one of these. The only thing that Lipitor and the naturally occuring plant sterol campesterol have in common is that they are both reported to lower cholesterol. That’s it – that’s the link!

    Here is the official position of the respected Australian Heart Foundation with respect to plant sterols (of which campesterol is one of the three most important in EVOO)

    ”Studies indicate that incorporating plant sterols into the diet may be an effective method of lowering total and LDL-cholesterol levels. By consuming plant sterols daily, adults may lower their LDL-cholesterol levels by around 10% depending on the age of the person. A reduced blood cholesterol level is associated with a reduced risk of CHD and stroke”.

    Posting this sort of comment can only serve to discredit the extraordinary health benefits of extra virgin olive oil in the eyes of consumers.

  • Stanford

    Where did Mr. Barjol mention statins? Did I miss something?

  • Karen V.

    I think the timing is perfect for a major campaign for the promotion of olive oil use in the US. Bravo.

  • Nag9999

    Jean-Louis Barjol

    I am a Senior Neurologist , and I am giving lots of TV ad teaching programs regarding consumption of olive oil and its health. It is taking up well. Probably the Indian marketing strategy is expecting immediate output of business, which may not be there for olive oil. But out of my campaign , many turned to consume olive oil, at least refined olive oil, now .

    We Indians are worried about our health now. Especially in the affluent society, the olive oil uptake is very good. I think this momentum should grow, only with the advertisement campaign by doctors like us, heralding and forwarding the health point of view.

    There is absolutely now issue of disappointment of sales of olive oil in India, as it lacks promotion strategy, as exists now for locally manufactured old-fashioned oils. Expecting your views on it again.

    Prof Dr V Nagarajan, MD MNAMS DM (Neuro) DSc.,
    Senior Neurologist , Tamil Nadu India

  • http://www.berkeleyolivegrove.com Darro

    True bottom line is condition and value of the product available on the market shelf for the consumer. All positions, arguments, and justifications are secondary and inconsequential.

  • Phyllis Heard

    Promoting campesterol as healthy because Australia has so much campesterol in their Barnea variety is “reckless”.Attempting to alter IOC standards through a “coalition of the willing” with UC Davis sensory “experts” is “reckless”. It will drive consumers to “mild”canola and ricebran oils who also market on the so called statin like abilities to lower cholesterol and the benefits of plant sterols with  high smoke points.The  “respected”Australian Heart foundation accepts sponsorship from all major drug companies who market statins for cardiac health very vigorously and also give away their heart health logo to plant sterol based transfat producers who also claim to lower cholesterol. The “respected” Australian heart foundation logo goes to pizza manufacturers who’s products have been proven to raise cholesterol. 
      A high polyphenol extra virgin olive oil deserves absolute “respect” and has done so for centuries.So called heart healthy, high plant sterol oils have only been in the modern diet for less than 100 years.research is beginning to show they may be proving  problematic to brain bio-chemistry.The “extraordinary” health benefits of extra virgin olive oil lie in the 31 identified polyphenols and their synergy with alpha tocopherol.No other oils have them in such perfect balance for neurological health.
      Richard Gawel would be far better putting his efforts into really researching the true beauty of an extra virgin olive oil instead of focusing on the sensory aspects of extra virgin olive oil and attacking the IOC. Given that not all extra virgins are the same and it is an oxidising product promoting through the use of sensory experts the culinary virtues of mild oils that will be very low in polyphenols with a very short shelf life is reckless from a health perspective. A rancid oil is likely to impact on the oxidative stress levels in the human body and is far more “reckless” than anything I am attempting to point out.     

  • Prof Dr Nagaraajan V

    The comment by the Heart foundation of Australia, that statins are plant sterols have a common platform, is untenable.  In fact, one of the viewer have commented that both may share one property i.e. lowering the cholesterol levels.  But statins never do the increase in HDL level, but natural plant sterols does.  This is an unique benefit from plant sterols.  Many of my patients are unable to bear the pharmacokinetic effect of the statins, apart from the fact, that it lowers the VLDL level etc., is severe liver dysfunctions, dyspepsia, and more so with severe muscle cramps, as it acts on cholesterol built muscle membrane.  Cholesterol is one of the binding blocks of the neuronal system, and when it gets affected, the person suffers many neurological ailments, which is often neglected by the Cardiologists, as they focus only on the plaques, atherosclerosis/  Significant food habit change, changing to olive oil consumption, or combination of blend oils, like olive oil corn oil blends, as it available in India, as “Cardialife oil” , from a company, is highly recommended instead of  consumption of statins, which has enormous side effects.  In fact, discontinuation of the statins suddenly has been reported with acute coronary spasms.  No such dangers with plant sterol consumption or consumption of oils, like olive oil, blended oils etc.  It is my personal observation so far ( yet to be published) that consumption of blended oils with olive oil and corn oil, does the best part in reduction in  LDL , VLDL, and increase in HDL which no drug does.  More so, the patients are highly happy over the issue that they are allowed to take food of their like.  Especially in India, and South Asian countries, fried foods takes the first role of consumption. Hence of my opinion Statins are not good to consume drugs, as it has lots of side effects, and natural sterols are the best