`Concern in Europe Over New Olive Oil Standards

Europe

Concern in Europe Over New Olive Oil Standards

Oct. 17, 2013
Julie Butler

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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

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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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