`Concern in Europe Over New Olive Oil Standards - Olive Oil Times

Concern in Europe Over New Olive Oil Standards

Oct. 17, 2013
Julie Butler

Recent News

European Commission’s Advisory Group on Olives and Derived Products Chairman Rafael Sánchez de Puerta Díaz

Europe’s olive oil sec­tor is keep­ing a wary eye on the United States and Australia for any moves to intro­duce manda­tory qual­ity stan­dards, the min­utes of an E.U. con­sul­ta­tion com­mit­tee show.

And accord­ing to the draft report on the last meet­ing of the European Commission’s Advisory Group on Olives and Derived Products, there is demand for bet­ter data to allow clearer snap­shots of the state of the olive oil mar­ket.

The recently pub­lished min­utes of the June 14 meet­ing in Brussels also say that the E.U. would like the U.S. to intro­duce a max­i­mum residue level for the pes­ti­cide Chlorpyrifos-ethyl in olive oil, because the lack of an MRL has seen var­i­ous con­tain­ers of Italian olive oil rejected in American ports.

Concern over pos­si­ble U.S. olive oil mar­ket­ing order

Under the agenda item non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers to trade,” some mem­bers of the group shared con­cerns over the pos­si­bil­ity of the U.S. intro­duc­ing an olive oil mar­ket­ing order. The lat­ter could lead to imports also being held to higher stan­dards.

Among views expressed were that Californians should com­ply with the same require­ments as E.U. oper­a­tors, so that we all play by the same rules”, and that IOC (International Olive Council) stan­dards should be adopted and applied to imports and domes­tic prod­ucts in the U.S.”


A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Commission said it was in con­tact with U.S. author­i­ties, mon­i­tor­ing devel­op­ments and try­ing to raise aware­ness of the issue.

The Commission also gave an update on its free trade talks with the U.S., indi­cat­ing it was will­ing to final­ize nego­ti­a­tions by the end of 2015.”

Fear Australia’s olive oil stan­dard could be enforced

Concerns were also aired over Australia’s olive oil stan­dard, adopted in 2011, and whether adher­ing to it could cease to be vol­un­tary in that coun­try.

The Commission said the Australian gov­ern­ment had con­firmed the stan­dard would remain vol­un­tary and there was no evi­dence that this could change any time soon.”

An indus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tive asked the Commission to remain cau­tious” on the mat­ter, as the sec­tor was not com­pletely reas­sured this would be the case, given that there was a lot of pres­sure from Australian pro­duc­ers.”

The Commission also said there were no plans to start free trade talks with Australia and this was unlikely to change in the near future.

Pesticide caus­ing prob­lems for US imports: chlor­pyri­fos-ethyl

Various con­tain­ers of Italian extra vir­gin olive oil were rejected at U.S. ports ear­lier this year because they had traces of chlor­pyri­fos-ethyl, a pes­ti­cide autho­rized in the US for other agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, but not for olive oil.

In a dis­cus­sion on the prob­lem, the Commission said the solu­tion was to ask the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set an MRL for olive oil.

The Commission was ready to sup­port such a sub­mis­sion and to raise the issue in bilat­eral talks, it said.

Desire for bet­ter mar­ket data

An overview of the olive oil and table olive mar­kets — includ­ing pro­vi­sional pro­duc­tion, con­sump­tion, trade and car­ry­over stock fig­ures for the 2012/13 sea­son, and the out­look for 2013/14 — led to dis­cus­sion on the col­lec­tion of such data.

At the group’s pre­vi­ous meet­ing, in December 2012, some mem­bers aired con­cerns about incon­sis­ten­cies” between the Commission’s data and that of the IOC.

At the lat­est meet­ing, the Commission reminded atten­dees that E.U. mem­bers must reg­u­larly pro­vide it with infor­ma­tion on their stocks and that the E.U. is obliged to com­mu­ni­cate mar­ket data to the IOC.

The min­utes say that many of the experts attend­ing the meet­ing felt com­pil­ing an exhaus­tive bal­ance sheet was very impor­tant, but hav­ing com­pre­hen­sive fig­ures on the upcom­ing mar­ket­ing year was more impor­tant.”

The Commission rep­re­sen­ta­tive advo­cated cau­tion when putting the fore­casts for the next year on paper, given that this could indi­rectly influ­ence prices. In addi­tion, much could still hap­pen before the start of the har­vest next October, such as adverse cli­matic sit­u­a­tions,” the min­utes also say.

Spain’s Olive Oil Agency col­lects mar­ket data in that coun­try and pub­lishes monthly reports on it.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of pro­duc­ers in another coun­try, sup­ported by some trade rep­re­sen­ta­tives, asked the Commission to help other E.U. states col­lect sim­i­lar sta­tis­tics, includ­ing data on stocks, as exhaus­tive as those in Spain, in order to improve the level of infor­ma­tion avail­able and pro­vide a gen­eral overview of the sit­u­a­tion for all mar­ket oper­a­tors.”

The min­utes say a dis­cus­sion was then held on how to improve the legal cer­tainty of panel tests,” but no detail is given.

Implementation of E.U. Olive Oil Action Plan: new reg­u­la­tion on sam­pling and test­ing para­me­ters

Among other mat­ters dis­cussed at the meet­ing, the Commission pro­vided an update on imple­men­ta­tion of its action plan for the E.U. olive oil sec­tor, dur­ing which there was also dis­cus­sion about its u‑turn in May on its pro­posal to ban refill­able olive oil bot­tles from E.U. restau­rant tables.

Producer rep­re­sen­ta­tive said it was unclear as to why the Commission had decided to with­draw the pro­posal.”

Meanwhile, the Commission said it had pre­pared a new reg­u­la­tion affect­ing sam­pling and var­i­ous para­me­ters for chem­i­cal analy­sis” that it hoped would be put to a vote by the end of the year.

Role of the IOC

Given the inter­na­tional agree­ment gov­ern­ing the IOC expires at the end of next year, debate con­tin­ued over how the coun­cil should evolve.

The Commission said it should play a strong role as the global guardian of qual­ity and ref­er­ence point for stan­dard­iza­tion and bal­ance sheets”.

And in a likely ref­er­ence to the pos­si­bil­ity of open­ing IOC mem­ber­ship to con­sumer coun­tries, not just pro­ducer ones, the Commission said it was time to start think­ing about expand­ing its mem­ber­ship base.”

New chair­man and vice chair­man

With advi­sory group chair­man Gennaro Forcella’s man­date at an end after two con­sec­u­tive terms, a vote took place and Spain’s Rafael Sánchez de Puerta Díaz was unan­i­mously elected to suc­ceed him.

The advi­sory group has tra­di­tion­ally been led by Italians and Sánchez, direc­tor gen­eral of FAECA, the Andalusian Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Enterprises, is the first Spaniard to head it.

Rafael Pico Lapuente, also from Spain, and direc­tor of Asoliva, the Spanish Olive Oil Exporters Association, was voted deputy chair­man, with one absten­tion.

Forcella has been pres­i­dent of Federolio, Italy’s olive oil trade asso­ci­a­tion, since 1997.

EC Advisory Groups

The Advisory Group on Olives and Derived Products usu­ally meets twice a year. Its next meet­ing will be in Brussels on November 12.

The Commission advises that opin­ions expressed by the work­ing group rep­re­sent the views of indus­try stake­hold­ers and can­not be attrib­uted to it.

Reports on the group’s meet­ings gen­er­ally do not list the atten­dees nor name the source of the views expressed.


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