`Italian Growers Sidelined While Dante Project Gets Public Funding - Olive Oil Times

Italian Growers Sidelined While Dante Project Gets Public Funding

Oct. 22, 2014
Marco Marino

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A €15 mil­lion invest­ment by the Italian Institute for Agro-indus­trial Development (ISA), which is con­trolled by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, for a 20 per­cent share in Olio Dante SpA has been crit­i­cized by the Italian Association of Olive Growers (CNO), which has called for a sys­tem­atic” look into the mat­ter that con­sid­ers the entire sup­ply chain and eval­u­ates its impact and ben­e­fits to the domes­tic pro­duc­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil.”

I wish to express my con­cern with bit­ter­ness and some dis­ap­point­ment. This gov­ern­men­tal finan­cial inter­ven­tion has been done with­out con­sid­er­ing nor involv­ing the Italian grow­ers of olive oil,” CNO pres­i­dent Gennaro Sicolo said.

CNO argued that such invest­ments should be for­mal­ized through long-term sup­ply con­tracts with Italian farm­ers, who should get fair prices for the raw mate­ri­als (olives) they can sup­ply.

The debate con­cerns the so-called hybrid” form of invest­ment to finance a par­tic­u­lar Dante devel­op­ment project in south­ern Italy, while not being con­sid­ered direct state sup­port for­bid­den in the EU. ISA is con­tribut­ing €15 mil­lion to match the invest­ment by the Mataluni Group, the owner of the Olio Dante” brand.

Italian Association of Olive Growers (CNO) pres­i­dent Gennaro Sicolo

The pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship will span eight years, with an expected annual return between 4.25 and 8,50 per­cent. The goals of the project are to increase sales of 100% Italian” olive oil in Italy and abroad, lift­ing Dante rev­enues to €100 mil­lion, export­ing up to 90 per­cent of the pro­duc­tion (mainly to the United States).

The Mataluni Group brand port­fo­lio includes Olita, Topazio, OiO, GiCo. The com­pany also pro­duces pri­vate label oils for some major retail chains.

I would have no objec­tion if a bank had led this finan­cial trans­ac­tion. But, in the case of ISA-Dante oil, I can not remain indif­fer­ent, because the Italian Government is involved through the Ministry of Agriculture,” Sicolo said.

It would be appro­pri­ate to recon­sider the mat­ter and maybe to pro­ceed expe­di­tiously towards the approval and fund­ing of a national olive plan,” he con­cluded.

CNO actu­ally has been ask­ing for a national plan of aid to olive grow­ers includ­ing tax reduc­tion, low-inter­est loans, spon­sor­ship and a national mar­ket­ing cam­paign to pro­mote Italian olive oil.

This is not the first time Sicolo and the CNO have objected to a state invest­ment in a pri­vate olive oil enter­prise. In March, Sicolo opposed con­tri­bu­tions by Italy, through the Italian Strategic Fund, toward major invest­ments in Deoleo, the world’s largest olive oil pro­ducer.


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