Italy Pledges €20M to Buy Local EVOO for Families in Need

The move comes after a previous effort to provide extra virgin olive oil to families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic sparked controversy, with farmers asserting that the effort favored imported oils over Italian ones.

Teresa Bellanova
Aug. 12, 2020
By Paolo DeAndreis
Teresa Bellanova

Extra vir­gin olive oil will soon be included in the aid pack­ages being dis­trib­uted to fam­i­lies in need and to those who have been hit hard­est by the COVID-19 pan­demic.

Italian Minister of Agriculture Teresa Bellanova has con­firmed that €20 mil­lion ($23.6 mil­lion) will be spent on 100 per­cent Italian extra vir­gin olive oil” for the project.

See Also: COVID-19 Updates

The extra vir­gin olive oil will be bought through pub­lic ten­ders. A wide net­work of vol­un­teers and care­givers will then dis­trib­ute the aid pack­ages, which also include other essen­tial foods, to those in need.

During a recent ses­sion in the Italian Parliament, Bellanova empha­sized that the food-aid emer­gency fund as a whole is worth a total of €300 mil­lion ($354 million).

Bellanova added that the olive oil food chain has been fac­ing sev­eral major chal­lenges and the fund will also help the sec­tor through these dif­fi­cult times. She said that the money also will be spent avoid­ing food waste” and sup­port­ing net­works of local volunteers.

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During the ses­sion, the Italian min­is­ter also addressed a heated con­tro­versy, which erupted last week regard­ing a sep­a­rate €8‑million ($9.4‑million) ten­der to buy extra vir­gin olive oil for fam­i­lies in need.

The terms of the Agency for Payments in Agriculture’s (AGEA) ten­der do not spec­ify that the oils have to be of Italian ori­gin. Additionally, the price set by the ten­der is €3.20 ($3.77) per liter, which many Italian olive oil pro­duc­ers con­sider to be too low. 

Italian olive oil pro­duc­ers are stepped on by the state spend­ing €8 mil­lion for an olive oil which will cer­tainly not be Italian because there is no Italian extra vir­gin olive oil that can cost less than €3.20 per liter,” Onofrio Spagnoletti Zauli, from the Restart asso­ci­a­tion, said.

However, this asser­tion was dis­missed by Bellanova.

That ten­der derives from the cri­te­ria imposed by European reg­u­la­tions,” she said. Those terms ask for the extra vir­gin olive oil to be pro­duced by olives grown, pressed and pack­aged within the European Union. That is due to the fact that those funds come from the FEAD [the European Fund for Aid to the Most Deprived].”





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