Some Italian farmers are skeptical about the Agency for Payments in Agriculture’s (AGEA) decision to buy almost €8 million ($9.4 million) of extra virgin olive oil for only €2.28 ($2.69) per liter.
The tender procedure has just been concluded and will allow AGEA to distribute that extra virgin olive oil among associations and volunteers who, in turn, will provide the olive oil as part of an essential food package to families in need.
Italian olive farmers have the right to know the parameters used by AGEA to judge the appropriateness of the €2.28 per liter offer for the program.
However, the farmers argue that the price determined by the AGEA is far below market value and have asked the agency to explain the €2.28 figure.
According to the Institute of Services for the Agricultural and Food Market (Ismea), the average price of extra virgin olive oil in Foggia, one benchmark market in Puglia, does not generally fall beneath €2.70 ($3.19) per kilogram.See more: Olive Oil Prices
In its final notice about the procedure, AGEA listed the offers entered by producers for the tender. The prices per liter ranged between €2.43 ($2.87) to €2.95 ($3.48), with the exception of Oleificio Salvadori, which was awarded the tender and priced its oils at €2.28.
AGEA said that it had asked all of the producers to justify their price offers and, after receiving reassurances of the quality of the oils, awarded Oleificio Salvadori all four lots of the tender.
The skeptical farmers have argued that all of those reassurances regarding the pricing should be made public.
“Italian olive farmers have the right to know the parameters used by AGEA to judge the appropriateness of the €2.28 per liter offer for the program,” Onofrio Spagnoletti Zeuli, spokesman of the Restart Association, said.
In a press release, Restart emphasized that its associates in Puglia are ready to cooperate with volunteers and social support organizations “to analyze at our own expenses the product being bought by the state, to make sure that it is a true, quality extra virgin olive oil.”
The AGEA tender fell under the European Union’s Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) fund. As a result of this, the origin of the extra virgin olive oil could be from somewhere other than Italy, according to the Italian Minister of Agriculture, Teresa Bellanova.
Along with the AGEA tender, the Italian government has also pledged to buy its own €20 million ($23.6 million) of “100-percent Italian extra virgin olive oil” to distribute in aid packages for families in need.
However, Zeuli said that when the tenders are published “we hope that true Italian products and quality Protected Designations of Origin will be their focus and that the tenders parameters will be connected to the real market.”