`Europe’s Olive Oil Advisory Group Debates Changes

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Europe’s Olive Oil Advisory Group Debates Changes

Jun. 20, 2014
Julie Butler

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The future of the olive oil sector’s gov­ern­ing body – the Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil (IOC) – and progress in transat­lantic free trade talks were among issues debated at the lat­est meet­ing of the Euro­pean Commission’s Advi­sory Group on Olives and Derived Prod­ucts.

Rafael Sánchez de Puerta Díaz is the chair­man of the Advi­sory Group on Olives and Derived Prod­ucts and an assis­tant gen­eral man­ager of Dcoop (for­merly known as the Hoji­blanca Coop­er­a­tive Group).

Transat­lantic free trade talks

Spain’s Rafael Sánchez de Puerta Díaz chairs the group, which meets twice a year to inform the com­mis­sion of the views of var­i­ous stake­hold­ers, and he said the June 10 meet­ing also saw dis­cus­sion of the need for con­tin­ued imple­men­ta­tion of the EU olive oil action plan and for more accu­rate mar­ket data.

Sánchez said the group was given an update by the Com­mis­sion on progress on its free trade talks with the U.S. He said mem­bers of the advi­sory group stressed the need to push for homog­e­niza­tion of stan­dards apply­ing to the olive oil sec­tor and the removal of trade bar­ri­ers, in par­tic­u­lar in rela­tion to residues of the pes­ti­cide chlor­pyri­fos-ethyl, which con­tin­ues to see some con­tain­ers of olive oil rejected in Amer­i­can ports.

Future of the IOC

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With the 2005 agree­ment on the oper­a­tion of the IOC expir­ing at the end of the year, dis­cus­sion con­tin­ued on the council’s future. Sánchez said the group sup­ports the IOC becom­ing more involved not just in pro­ducer coun­tries but in con­sumer ones, par­tic­u­larly to pro­mote under­stand­ing and accep­tance of its reg­u­la­tions on qual­ity and purity.

EU olive oil action plan

Sánchez said the advi­sory group reminded the Com­mis­sion about the need to con­tinue with the imple­men­ta­tion of its olive oil action plan, in par­tic­u­lar sup­port for research on the con­trol of the qual­ity and purity of olive oil and pro­mo­tion of more con­sis­tent con­sumer infor­ma­tion and improved prod­uct clas­si­fi­ca­tions and def­i­n­i­tions.

Though there is con­sen­sus in the group for chang­ing the cur­rent IOC def­i­n­i­tion of olive oil” – which is refined oil with some vir­gin olive oil – Sánchez said no alter­na­tives had been pro­posed. I think it’s up to the pack­ag­ing sec­tor to develop a con­crete pro­posal,” he said.

Pos­si­ble amal­ga­ma­tion of EU advi­sory groups

There’s talk within the Com­mis­sion of pos­si­bly com­bin­ing var­i­ous of the EU advi­sory groups, such as those on olives and derived prod­ucts, on fruit and veg­eta­bles, and on spirit drinks. Sánchez said the olive group had expressed its com­plete objec­tion to such a move, which would com­bine very dif­fer­ent prod­ucts.

Inac­cu­racy of olive oil pro­duc­tion and trade esti­mates

Sánchez said there con­tin­ues to be con­cern within the advi­sory group about the accu­racy of pro­duc­tion and trade sta­tis­tics. Very often there are dif­fer­ences between what the gov­ern­ments report to the Com­mis­sion and what a country’s pro­ducer orga­ni­za­tions say, and this is mainly occurs in Italy,” he said.

Sim­i­larly, and though it’s improv­ing, dis­crep­an­cies are seen in the trade bal­ances pub­lished by the IOC, prob­a­bly due to mis­man­age­ment of data in the coun­tries pro­vid­ing the fig­ures, he said.

While the lat­est IOC mar­ket newslet­ter reported a year-on-year drop in olive oil and olive pomace oil imports of nearly 8 per­cent across seven major mar­kets, Sánchez said he believes the world mar­ket is still grow­ing.”

Sánchez in new role with Dcoop

Sánchez was elected chair­man of the Advi­sory Group on Olives and Derived Prod­ucts last year. In May this year he was appointed as an assis­tant gen­eral man­ager of Dcoop (for­merly known as the Hoji­blanca Coop­er­a­tive Group), the world’s biggest pro­ducer of extra vir­gin olive oil. The for­mer direc­tor gen­eral of FAECA, the Andalu­sian Fed­er­a­tion of Agri­cul­tural Coop­er­a­tive Enter­prises, he con­tin­ues to rep­re­sent the sec­tor at var­i­ous lev­els includ­ing on com­mit­tees of the IOC and EU farmer lobby Copa-Cogeca.


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