` Olive Oil Importers Name New Director - Olive Oil Times

Olive Oil Importers Name New Director

Oct. 17, 2017
Curtis Cord

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The North American Olive Oil Association has named Joseph R. Profaci exec­u­tive direc­tor of the trade group of major American olive oil importers. The posi­tion was pre­vi­ously held by Eryn Balch.

It is clear that the fake news’ epi­demic in the United States is not lim­ited to those seek­ing to gain polit­i­cal advan­tages.- Joseph R. Profaci

I am very proud to be lead­ing the NAOOA. This role is the cul­mi­na­tion of my 25 years in this busi­ness, and I feel well pre­pared to tackle the biggest issue the indus­try is fac­ing, which we believe is con­sumer con­fi­dence and trust,” Profaci told Olive Oil Times.

Joseph R. Profaci is a Harvard and New York University-edu­cated attor­ney who has served as the gen­eral coun­sel for Colavita USA, the com­pany based in New Jersey founded by his father, John J. Profaci who began a part­ner­ship with Enrico Colavita in 1980 to dis­trib­ute the brand in the U.S.

Profaci’s fam­ily his­tory in the olive oil busi­ness goes back to another era: His grand­fa­ther, Joseph Profaci, was the founder of one of New York’s five crime fam­i­lies” known as the Colombos, and the inspi­ra­tion for Marlon Brando’s char­ac­ter in The Godfather.” He was at one time the coun­try’s most noto­ri­ous rack­e­teer known as the Olive Oil King” and Don Peppino.”

In 2010, John J. Profaci’s son, John Profaci Jr. told the New York Post about the fam­i­ly’s evo­lu­tion to legit­i­mate’ busi­nesses: We’ve gone so far, our fam­ily has, since those days. We all went to good col­leges and got good edu­ca­tions. We are busi­ness­men … That’s so far removed from our past.”

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My grand­fa­ther died in 1962, when I was two years old,” Joseph R. Profaci told Olive Oil Times. Sixteen years later, in 1978, my dad, John J. Profaci, was work­ing as a food bro­ker when he had the good for­tune of being intro­duced to Enrico Colavita who was trav­el­ing in New York on his hon­ey­moon. Suddenly, my dad was in the olive oil busi­ness, and he, too, faced the same ques­tions – and not a few unde­served com­ments about the past.”

We’re proud of the respect that we’ve worked for and won, and I would hope to be judged on my own mer­its rather than out­dated and dis­con­nected stereo­types,” he added.

Profaci, who started yes­ter­day in his new role, leads a trade group that has taken an increas­ingly offen­sive stance against what it sees as inac­cu­rate state­ments that have dam­aged the rep­u­ta­tion of imported olive oils.

At this point last year, the olive oil asso­ci­a­tion was reel­ing from the recent report of olive oil fraud on CBS’s 60 Minutes,” Profaci wrote recently in the Association of Food Industries (AFI) annual report. As a result our mem­bers chal­lenged the asso­ci­a­tion to devise a strate­gic plan both to respond to con­tin­ued attacks against imported olive oil, and to redou­ble our efforts to pro­mote pos­i­tive news about the category.”
See Also: 60 Minutes Looks at Olive Oil Adulteration in Italy
In November 2016, the group sued tele­vi­sion’s Dr. Oz’ for claim­ing dur­ing a show that aired in May 2016 that 80 per­cent of the extra vir­gin olive oil sold in U. S. super­mar­kets isn’t real.” That suit was dis­missed last March.

The asso­ci­a­tion was dis­ap­pointed in and dis­agreed with the judge’s dis­missal,” Profaci said today. But after the NAOOA filed a notice of appeal, the par­ties reached an ami­ca­ble set­tle­ment. Dr. Oz is com­mit­ted to our cause of pro­tect­ing con­sumers from fraud — includ­ing decep­tive mis­in­for­ma­tion — and we are grate­ful for that.”

In December last year, the group filed a law­suit against the California-based, spe­cialty store dis­trib­u­tor Veronica Foods for what it called false, mis­lead­ing and sci­en­tif­i­cally unsub­stan­ti­ated state­ments about olive oil sold in super­mar­kets, claim­ing it lacks the health ben­e­fits con­sumers expect.” That case is ongo­ing and Profaci declined to com­ment on the proceedings.

Profaci described the asso­ci­a­tion’s key issues in his report to the AFI: There are three main branches in our olive oil strat­egy: defend against attacks; sci­ence and stan­dards; and com­mu­ni­ca­tions. It is clear that the fake news’ epi­demic in the United States is not lim­ited to those seek­ing to gain polit­i­cal advantages.”

The good thing is that peo­ple are truly pas­sion­ate about olive oil,” he noted. The chal­lenge is mak­ing sure that they are well enough informed to know if they are being mis­led, whether it be in a click­bait fake news post­ing on Facebook or on a prod­uct label.”

The group has engaged in lob­by­ing ini­tia­tives on issues such as Farm Bill leg­is­la­tion and qual­ity test­ing pro­grams. The NAOOA began work­ing closely with Washington D.C. con­sul­tants to help us edu­cate law­mak­ers about the cur­rent state of affairs. As a result of those efforts, the draft Senate Agricultural Committee appro­pri­a­tions report included lan­guage that the FDA should con­duct test­ing of all prod­ucts (and not just imports),” Profaci wrote.

The pro­tec­tion­ist dis­course of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has also served as a call to action for the trade group accord­ing to Profaci, who said, We must remain vig­i­lant of obsta­cles that might be erected in light of anti-trade rhetoric of the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, both in terms of import reg­u­la­tions and tax policy.”

Profaci served as the NAOOA chair until June 2017, accord­ing to a press state­ment pro­vided to Olive Oil Times. Media were invited to con­tact Greg Drescher at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) as a ref­er­ence on Profaci.

In 1991, Colavita USA donated $2 mil­lion to the Culinary Institute in exchange for the nam­ing rights to a new cam­pus build­ing, the Colavita Center for Italian Food and Wine. In 2010, John J. Profaci was inducted into the CIA Hall of Fame.


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