`Spain Looks for Solutions on Olive Oil Prices, Quality - Olive Oil Times

Spain Looks for Solutions on Olive Oil Prices, Quality

By Julie Butler
Jan. 26, 2020 09:14 UTC

Clara Aguilera and Dacian Cioloş

Spain is push­ing for European Commission aid to store extra vir­gin olive oil until prices improves.

In September, EC Agriculture & Rural Development Commissioner Dacian Cioloş agreed to sub­sidise the stor­age of vir­gin olive oil for six months. Since then the aver­age pro­ducer price for EVOO has also tum­bled and for five weeks has been under the rel­e­vant trig­ger level of 1.77 €/kg.

Spanish Ministry for Environment, Marine and Rural Affairs (MARM) fig­ures for the first week of January put the EVOO price at 1.67 €/kg.

Cioloş is due to meet Spain’s new Minister for Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs, Miguel Arias Cañete, in Spain on February 2 but Andalusia’s Minister for Agriculture and Fishing, Clara Aguilera, says the pri­vate stor­age aid is urgent and can’t wait till then.

As another mea­sure to try to address fac­tors behind the low prices, Aguilera announced the cre­ation of a work­ing group to review reg­u­la­tions relat­ing to the qual­ity of olive oil, and she said she would con­tinue look­ing for ways to spur more inte­gra­tion and fusion in the highly frag­mented pro­duc­tion sec­tor.

Aguilera also said that as part of the cur­rent reform of the EC’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the olive oil sec­tor should be exempted from com­pe­ti­tion law, in a sim­i­lar way as is being planned for pro­duc­ers in the dairy sec­tor.

The olive har­vest is pro­ceed­ing faster than usual this year, thanks largely to the lack of rain, and is now nearly com­plete in Jaén. The need to process the olives as soon as pos­si­ble after they are picked is caus­ing prob­lems for some olive mills, how­ever, which are strug­gling to cope with the con­cen­trated load.

Meanwhile, Catalonia’s olive oil har­vest is set to fin­ish with pro­duc­tion down at least 50 per­cent on last year due to drought and then heavy rains in late October which tossed much of the fruit to the ground.

Also in Spain, there is hot debate over a pro­posal for changes in the role of tast­ing pan­els in vir­gin and extra vir­gin olive oil qual­ity test­ing. Some argue that given pro­duc­ers are held respon­si­ble for ensur­ing that the oil they bot­tle is true to its label — despite EVOO being a prod­uct that dete­ri­o­rates over time — only organolep­tic tests done at the time of bot­tling should be held as bind­ing.

But among the dis­senters is the group rep­re­sent­ing pro­tected denom­i­na­tions of ori­gin in Andalusia, which says that if panel tests are not main­tained as a valid tool of qual­ity con­trol even after the bot­tles are on the shelf, this will legal­ize the irreg­u­lar sit­u­a­tion in which many oils labeled as extra vir­gin or vir­gin and sold at low prices would strug­gle to main­tain that cat­e­gory if sub­jected to a panel test.”

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