Business

Council Hears Why Olive Oil Quality Seals Are Burgeoning

Nov. 11, 2013
By Julie Butler

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A renewed effort to reach a single inter­na­tional stan­dard for olive oil was called for by mem­bers of the sector attend­ing a recent International Olive Council meet­ing, the IOC says in a sum­mary of the event.

Its state­ment regard­ing the October 25 meet­ing in Madrid of its Advisory Committee on Olive Oil and Table Olives, said such a stan­dard “would serve as a common foun­da­tion and would then allow pri­vate ini­tia­tives by com­pa­nies, national asso­ci­a­tions or inter­na­tional asso­ci­a­tions to dif­fer­en­ti­ate their extra virgin olive oils on the basis of tighter require­ments entail­ing addi­tional para­me­ters or stricter limits for spe­cific para­me­ters taken from the single stan­dard.”

Not a call for a new IOC stan­dard cov­er­ing pre­mium extra virgin olive oil

As part of a dis­cus­sion on the grow­ing number of con­for­mity and qual­ity seals for olive oil, the com­mit­tee had invited var­i­ous asso­ci­a­tions from non-IOC member coun­tries to attend the meet­ing.

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The IOC said in its state­ment that the key points emerg­ing from their pre­sen­ta­tions and the ensu­ing debate “were that par­tic­i­pants wel­comed qual­ity seal schemes aimed at dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing between extra virgin olive oils on the basis of stricter para­me­ters than in the IOC’s Trade Standard Applying to Olive Oils and Olive-Pomace Oils.

“But at the same time they felt that such pre­mium extra virgin olive oil should not be cov­ered by a new IOC stan­dard.”

IOC laments “lack of mon­i­tor­ing” in most non-IOC importer coun­tries

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Meanwhile, the core issue as seen by the Advisory Committee is that of “gov­ern­men­tal mon­i­tor­ing of com­pli­ance with cur­rent IOC stan­dards,” the IOC state­ment said.

“Such mon­i­tor­ing, or the lack of it, in the major­ity of the non-IOC import­ing coun­tries due to the absence of ad hoc reg­u­la­tions is pre­cisely what has driven sev­eral importer asso­ci­a­tions (Australia, Japan, USA) to ask the IOC to sup­port their schemes for the vol­un­tary mon­i­tor­ing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the oils sold by their mem­bers, with ref­er­ence to the IOC stan­dard, and to per­suade their author­i­ties to adopt the IOC stan­dard.”

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Australian exam­ple

Regarding pro­duc­ers from non-IOC coun­tries, the IOC said there was a cam­paign in Australia for the adop­tion of a national stan­dard — cur­rently only vol­un­tary — dif­fer­ing from the IOC stan­dard on cer­tain para­me­ters.

“They have put in place a self-mon­i­tor­ing scheme cer­ti­fy­ing oil con­for­mity with this stan­dard,” it said.

The advi­sory com­mit­tee noted that the aim was for this to go inter­na­tional through the EVA (Extra Virgin Alliance) scheme, “but even more so to find a prac­ti­cal solu­tion that sat­is­fies both com­pa­nies in IOC member coun­tries (which are required to abide by the IOC stan­dard at least) and those in non-IOC member coun­tries (case of Australia) that wish to dero­gate some limits fixed in the IOC stan­dard for cer­tain purity para­me­ters by apply­ing higher limits (for campes­terol and linolenic acid con­tent) to reflect the dis­tinc­tive fea­tures of some locally pro­duced virgin olive oils.”

“The Advisory Committee is very famil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion in the non-IOC member coun­tries but par­tic­i­pants reit­er­ated the hope that all the olive oil pro­duc­ing coun­tries would make a renewed effort at dia­logue in order to arrive at a single inter­na­tional stan­dard,” the IOC said.

Participants came from coun­tries includ­ing Australia, Brazil, Japan, Peru, and the United States

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The IOC said that the meet­ing par­tic­i­pants included the Australian Olive Association (AOA), rep­re­sent­ing pro­duc­ers. “The Australian Olive Oil Association (AOOA), which rep­re­sents importers, apol­o­gized for being unable to attend but for­warded a pre­sen­ta­tion,” it said.

“The Brazilian importer asso­ci­a­tion OLIVA attended along­side two asso­ci­a­tions from Japan – the importer asso­ci­a­tion JOA and TOYO, which is pri­mar­ily a pro­ducer asso­ci­a­tion, the olive oil tasters’ asso­ci­a­tion Peruolivo from Peru, and the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) from the United States, rep­re­sent­ing importers.

“The Californian Olive Oil Council (COOC), made up of Californian pro­duc­ers, did not reply to the invi­ta­tion extended by the IOC.

“Two inter­na­tional asso­ci­a­tions also attended, the California-based asso­ci­a­tion EVA and the Spain-based QvExtra!”

Portugal’s Luis Folque appointed com­mit­tee chair­man

In a sep­a­rate state­ment, the IOC said that the advi­sory com­mit­tee was set up in 1991 “as a meet­ing point for indus­try pro­fes­sion­als from the IOC member coun­tries to voice their opin­ions, it is a key talk­ing part­ner for the IOC Executive Secretariat and helps it to iden­tify effec­tive solu­tions to issues of con­cern to the sector.”

At its latest meet­ing, the com­mit­tee appointed a new chair­per­son and two vice chair­per­sons.

Luis Folque, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of proces­sors and pres­i­dent of the Portuguese asso­ci­a­tion CASA DO AZEITE, will be chair­man for 2014 and 2015, replac­ing Tunisia’s Ali Ben El Hadj M’Barek, “who has rep­re­sented pro­duc­ers since the com­mit­tee was first set up and has held the com­mit­tee chair on two occa­sions, firstly in 1997 – 2000 and then in 2010 – 2013.”

“For the two vice chairs, com­mit­tee rep­re­sen­ta­tives elected the former chair­man Ali Ben El Hadj M’Barek and the Head of Institutional Relations at the Consorzio Olivicolo Italiano (UNAPROL, Rome, Italy), Michele Bungaro, who also rep­re­sents pro­duc­ers,” the IOC said.