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Italian Consortia Sign Major Agreement, Triggering Backlash

An agreement signed in Rome by Coldiretti, Unaprol, Federolio and FAI S.p.A. includes measures which stirred protests among representatives of the Italian olive oil sector.

Jul. 5, 2018
By Ylenia Granitto

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A sec­tor agree­ment was signed in Rome by the orga­ni­za­tion of farm­ers Coldiretti, the olive oil producer’s con­sor­tium Unaprol, the trade asso­ci­a­tion Federo­lio and the pro­moter of Ital­ian prod­ucts FAI S.p.A., includ­ing the main Ital­ian bot­tling com­pa­nies.

A cam­ou­flaged Ital­ian-sound­ing which aims to waste the extra­or­di­nary and unique Ital­ian vari­ety of monocul­ti­var, PDO, PGI and organic olive oils which con­sti­tute the real wealth of Ital­ian olive grow­ing.- Gen­naro Sicolo, national con­sor­tium of olive grow­ers CNO

The deal — announced at Palazzo Rospigliosi dur­ing a con­fer­ence titled seg­ment to develop: new prospects for con­sump­tion and demand” pro­moted by Federo­lio — will cover 10,000 tons of olive oil, with a sup­ply chain value of over €50 mil­lion.

Accord­ing to Coldiretti, the set­tle­ment is aimed at ensur­ing the safety and dif­fu­sion of 100 per­cent Ital­ian olive oil, while sta­bi­liz­ing the eco­nomic con­di­tions for sales.”

Start­ing from the cur­rent olive oil cam­paign, the pact is intended to guar­an­tee the sta­bil­ity and eco­nomic sus­tain­abil­ity of the farm­ers who take part in it.” A key pro­vi­sion calls for a price thresh­old suf­fi­cient to cover the costs for pro­duc­tion and trace­abil­ity of the sup­ply chain, with the pos­si­bil­ity of an increase based on qual­i­ta­tive para­me­ters.”

The objec­tive of the agree­ment accord­ing to its stake­hold­ers is to defend pro­duc­tion, ensure the sus­tain­able use of the ter­ri­tory, enhance the dis­tinc­tive­ness, ensure the right dis­tri­b­u­tion of value among all parts of the sup­ply chain, recon­struct an iden­tity of the coun­try sys­tem and regain mar­ket shares.” More­over, it aims to bring together Ital­ian com­pa­nies and defend them from the attacks of multi­na­tion­als which acquire Ital­ian brands to exploit their image on national and inter­na­tional mar­kets and give an appear­ance of Ital­ian­ity’ to for­eign pro­duc­tions.”

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Dur­ing the con­fer­ence held at Palazzo Rospigliosi, it was stated that the whole­sale price of the afore­said vol­ume of olive oil would be set at about €4/kg. Then, the sec­re­tary gen­eral of Coldiretti, Vin­cenzo Ges­mundo, launched a pro­posal for a new type of blend called Ital­ico’ which, if it is approved, would con­sist of 50 per­cent Ital­ian olive oil and 50 per­cent of olive oil from EU and non-EU coun­tries.

In spite of the moti­va­tion of the initiative’s pro­mot­ers, who described it as a ground­break­ing and patri­otic act, this pro­voked many reac­tions in the indus­try among pro­duc­ers’ orga­ni­za­tions and con­sumer groups.

The Ital­ian olive oil indus­try asso­ci­a­tion Assi­tol issued a press release stat­ing that the Ital­ico’ blend would divide the oil sec­tor with­out help­ing con­sumers. Blend­ing is an impor­tant asset of the olive oil indus­try,” said the pres­i­dent of the Asso­ci­a­tion’s olive oil group, Anna Cane. How­ever, the pro­posal for the Ital­ico’ as it was designed and pre­sented raises doubts in the indus­try and it is liable to con­fuse con­sumers.”

For Assi­tol, the pro­tec­tion of the 100-per­cent Ital­ian olive oil should fol­low other paths. The pro­mo­tion of local extra vir­gin olive oil must be played accord­ing to the prin­ci­ples of qual­ity, gen­uine­ness, trace­abil­ity and food safety,” Cane argued, adding that in the midst of a con­sumer cri­sis, a pos­i­tive sto­ry­telling of extra vir­gin olive oil is essen­tial, espe­cially since it is often the vic­tim of an infor­ma­tion with scan­dalous con­no­ta­tions.”

For these rea­sons, we did not really feel the need for a new rea­son for the frag­men­ta­tion of the olive oil world,” the pres­i­dent of the association’s olive oil group remarked. In this regard, Assi­tol reit­er­ated the impor­tance of a shared path between all the play­ers in the sec­tor. We look for­ward to any ini­tia­tive to pro­mote extra vir­gin olive oil, on con­di­tion that it is inclu­sive and open. There­fore, we reaf­firm the role of the new inter­pro­fes­sional orga­ni­za­tion FOOI, which was founded to unite, not to divide, the dif­fer­ent souls of the olive oil sec­tor,” Cane con­cluded.

Severe crit­i­cism was also expressed by the national con­sor­tium of olive grow­ers CNO. This agree­ment is an attack on the Ital­ian extra vir­gin olive oil, on the pro­duc­ers of our coun­try and the health of con­sumers,” said the pres­i­dent Gen­naro Sicolo, who did not mince words on the new mea­sures.

The seri­ous­ness of this ini­tia­tive results from the fact that some com­pa­nies try to get to the clear­ance of oil blends com­posed by Ital­ian, EU and non-EU olive oils, which have always been rejected by the world of pro­duc­tion,” Sicolo said. Accord­ing to (the agree­ment), the work of olive grow­ers is worth about 4 euros per kg, which is well below the cost of pro­duc­tion, con­sid­er­ing 4.80 euros per kg in the south, 7 euros per kg in cen­tral Italy, and 9 euros per kg in the north,” he observed.

We will oppose in any way this plot that the pres­i­dent of Federo­lio called Ital­ico’ — a cam­ou­flaged Ital­ian-sound­ing which aims to waste the extra­or­di­nary and unique Ital­ian vari­ety of monocul­ti­var, PDO, PGI and organic olive oils which con­sti­tute the real wealth of Ital­ian olive grow­ing,” Sicolo con­tin­ued, while an online peti­tion was launched by the CNO against the Ital­ico.’

The orga­ni­za­tion of pro­duc­ers Unasco also rejected the agree­ment. Against this ini­tia­tive, we demand the inter­ven­tion of the Gov­ern­ment and the Par­lia­ment, to defend the rights of cit­i­zens and con­sumers to trans­parency and to gen­uine­ness,” the pres­i­dent Luigi Canino told the mag­a­zine Teatro Nat­u­rale.

Words are impor­tant and the olive oil mar­ket needs true words and gen­uine and trans­par­ent prod­ucts,” he said. We are com­mit­ted to offer­ing con­sumers 100 per­cent made in Italy olive oils, among which every per­son can choose their own, aware of buy­ing a real Ital­ian prod­uct from olive trees cul­ti­vated in Italy with olives pressed in Italy,” Canino declared.

We will do every­thing in our power to stop the bar­gain­ing of Ital­ian extra vir­gin olive oil in the name of the profit of the few. Ital­ians and con­sumers all over the world have the right to enjoy the qual­ity and nutraceu­ti­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics of our oil,” he con­cluded.

Unaprol, in turn, said the safe­guard of the 100 per­cent Ital­ian olive oil is the fun­da­men­tal con­di­tion of any agree­ment. The mea­sure will attach the full impor­tance to qual­ity, rewarded with price increases rang­ing from 0.30 to 0.60 euros based on para­me­ters of sus­tain­abil­ity,” said pres­i­dent David Granieri.

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These are sig­nif­i­cant incen­tives for the olive grow­ers, which start imme­di­ately in view of the 2018 – 2019 oil cam­paign that is expected to be com­plex due to the frosts of Feb­ru­ary,” he added. It becomes clear that in such a sit­u­a­tion, with the sec­tor in dif­fi­culty and in loss of mar­ket shares, it is nec­es­sary to try to build a new model start­ing from the sup­ply chain.”

But despite the reas­sur­ances from the initiative’s pro­mot­ers, crit­i­cism showed no sign of dimin­ish­ing, while the daily news­pa­per Italia Oggi reported that one of the rea­sons behind the agree­ment was to save pro­duc­ers’ orga­ni­za­tions from a cri­sis in sales.

At the time of writ­ing, Coldiretti launched the fol­low­ing press release:

There is no ref­er­ence to the name Ital­ico’ nor to blends of Made in Italy extra vir­gin olive oils with those imported from abroad in the largest sec­tor agree­ment of all time signed by Coldiretti, Unaprol, Federo­lio and FAI S.p.A. (Fil­iera Agri­cola Ital­iana), which involves the main Ital­ian pack­ag­ing com­pa­nies.

The sig­na­tory orga­ni­za­tions have made it known that it is a fake news that is wide­spread to try to hit a his­toric agree­ment for 100% Ital­ian oil, from olives grown and milled in Italy, which cov­ers a quan­tity of 10 mil­lion tons for a value of the sup­ply chain con­tract of over 50 mil­lion euros, which cuts off inter­me­di­aries, spec­u­la­tions and fix­ers.

This is a fake news, more or less self-serv­ing, for inter­ests that have noth­ing to do with the good of Made in Italy and of thou­sands of con­sumers and agri­cul­tural entre­pre­neurs who are inter­ested in freely eval­u­ate the oppor­tu­ni­ties and the con­di­tions offered by a con­tract with a min­i­mum guar­an­teed price and finally the pos­si­bil­ity of a multi-year pro­duc­tive plan­ning.”






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