A minimum number of tests on olive oil authenticity would have to conducted each year in the European Union under proposed anti-fraud measures before a European Commission committee.
And EU countries would have to be more rigorous in the details they gave the EC on their testing and any irregularities found, as part of a proposed standardization of obligatory reporting.
The moves are part of the EC’s Olive Oil Action Plan and were discussed at a meeting of the Management Committee for the Common Organisation of Agricultural Markets on October 23.
Labeling: more prominent details of origin
Steps to improve olive oil labeling were also discussed there, including proposed rules on the positioning of information and font size.
It’s been reported in the Italian press that the origin of an olive oil would have to appear in the main visual field of labeling — not on the back of a bottle — and in lettering of at least 5mm in the case of one liter packaging and 2mm for smaller sizes.
The committee is considering various measures requiring amendment of key EU olive oil legislation, namely regulation 29/2012 on marketing standards for olive oil, and 2568/1991 on the characteristics of olive oil and olive-residue oil and on the relevant methods of analysis.
Brussels sources say it is hoped that the committee will be ready to vote on the amendments by the end of December or early January.
They say that though the EU’s olive oil producer countries are generally in favor of the changes, those from non-producer countries fear the financial burden of increased monitoring.
Non-refillable olive oil containers in restaurants
Among other measures in the proposed action plan, the committee is still discussing whether the EU’s restaurant and hospitality sector should be required to use one-way packaging (non-refillable containers) for olive oil provided for customers.
Proposed changes to chemical testing methods and quality parameters are awaiting decision at the level of the International Olive Council (IOC), an EC agriculture spokesman said.
Similarly, a proposal to allow the IOC to admit countries where olive oil is not produced but is consumed is to be decided by the IOC’s Council of Members.
Price support for farmers
Spain’s agricultural organizations are among those sweating on details of reform to private storage aid, a form of intervention used when ex-mill prices are low.
They say the current trigger prices of 1779€/t for extra virgin, 1710€/t for virgin and 1524€/t for lampante are far too low.
Private storage aid trigger prices
Changes to the trigger prices are understood to be part of current discussions at the level of the European Parliament and Council.
However, EC documents show that early drafts of regulatory change proposed raising the trigger price for extra virgin alone, to 1980€/t, “in the interests of the quality of the olive oil.”
But there were also various proposed amendments sought by members of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, including one to increase the prices to 2357, 2266 and 2019€/t for the respective triggers, on the grounds that the current prices “which were set in 1998, must be increased since they no longer reflect the real situation in the market.”
Private storage aid in 2012: €17 million
Documents forming part of the current EC general budget process say that private storage schemes for olive oil opened in February and May this year will have a “financial impact” of about €17 million ($22m) on the 2013 budget.