Olive Council Convenes in Rome for 105th Session

Representatives at the IOC meet to discuss promotions, trade agreements, and most importantly, minimizing environmental impact on future crops.

FAO Headquarters, Rome
Jun. 7, 2017
By Joanne Drawbaugh
FAO Headquarters, Rome

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The Italian author­i­ties hosted the 105th ses­sion of the International Olive Council (IOC) at the head­quar­ters of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in Rome on May 23rd, 24th and 25th.

The Italian Deputy Minister of Agriculture inau­gu­rated the session’s activ­i­ties. In atten­dance were rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the pre­sid­ing nation of Algeria, in addi­tion to del­e­gates from most of the IOC’s mem­ber coun­tries, includ­ing Argentina, Iran, Turkey and Uruguay. 

Representatives of the International Center for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM) and the Japan Oilseed Processors Association (JOPA) also attended the 105th ses­sion in an obser­va­tory role due to their close work with the IOC. 

Following the inau­gu­ra­tion, the deputy min­is­ter of agri­cul­tural pol­icy, Andrea Olivero, gave wel­com­ing and open­ing remarks. Upon his con­clu­sion, Loriana Abbruzzetti, chair­per­son of the Pandolea Association, pre­sented her organization’s work. Abbruzzetti took the oppor­tu­nity to entreaty the IOC to develop an asso­ci­a­tion of female olive oil pro­duc­ers to aid in spread­ing fur­ther infor­ma­tion, aware­ness and pro­mo­tion in pro­ducer countries. 

The IOC’s var­i­ous spe­cial­ized com­mit­tees, com­prised of Administrative and Financial Affairs, Economic and Promotion, and Chemistry and Standardization con­ducted meet­ings dur­ing the session. 

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The Administrative and Financial Affairs Committee con­vened with the Council of Members to assess the sta­tus of rat­i­fi­ca­tions, accep­tances, approvals and pro­vi­sional appli­ca­tions or acces­sion to the International Agreement on Olive Oil and Table Olives (2015), which, accord­ing to a state­ment pro­vided by the IOC is aimed at facil­i­tat­ing the par­tic­i­pa­tion of importer countries.” 

While Jordan, Palestine and Tunisia are the only par­tic­i­pants that have cur­rently achieved rat­i­fi­ca­tion based on records kept by the United Nations, the com­mit­tee did note that Turkey and Egypt were final­iz­ing the process and that the con­sumer coun­tries of Brazil, China, and Japan have all shown inter­est in becom­ing mem­bers of the IOC. 

Regarding Economics and Promotion, Mustafa Septici and Jaime Lillo, mem­bers of the IOC’s exec­u­tive sec­re­tariat, pro­vided the Council of Members with updated infor­ma­tion on pro­duc­tion, con­sump­tion and exports trends” preva­lent to the indus­try over the past few years. 

The exec­u­tive sec­re­tariat also focused on the inter­na­tional study on con­sumer behav­ior, the har­mo­niza­tion of cus­toms codes for main olive oil cat­e­gories, and the IOC’s mar­ket newslet­ter and web­site. The Council of Members were informed of var­i­ous pro­mo­tional efforts tak­ing place across the globe, includ­ing a cam­paign in Japan, which began in July 2015. 

The Japanese cam­paign will con­tinue into 2017 sub­ject to bud­getary avail­abil­ity. Additionally, the Council dis­cussed the recent media tour for Japanese jour­nal­ists in Turkey and the orga­ni­za­tion of activ­i­ties related to the cel­e­bra­tion of World Olive Day. Grants for mem­ber nations’ cel­e­bra­tion of the hol­i­day will be awarded on November 26, 2017. 

Following the suc­cess of the Japanese cam­paign, mem­bers of the Executive Secretariat includ­ing the deputy exec­u­tive direc­tor for tech­ni­cal, pro­mo­tion and eco­nomic affairs, the head of chem­istry and stan­dard set­ting unit and the head of the pro­mo­tion unit will take advan­tage of their trip to New York for the annual meet­ing of the North American Olive Oil Association by meet­ing with mem­bers of the American admin­is­tra­tion in Washington D.C. and olive oil pro­duc­ers in California. 

These dis­cus­sions are intended to strengthen the col­lab­o­ra­tion between the US olive indus­try and the IOC with a view to launch­ing a pro­mo­tion cam­paign of olive oil and table olive con­sump­tion,” accord­ing to a state­ment pro­vided to Olive Oil Times by the IOC. 

In their dis­cus­sions of olive oil chem­istry and stan­dard­iza­tion, the Council noted activ­i­ties that have been car­ried out since the 104th ses­sion in test­ing meth­ods, the orga­ni­za­tion of the 17th edi­tion of the IOC Mario Solinas Quality Award 2017, har­mo­niz­ing stan­dards, and qual­ity con­trol mea­sures for olive oils and olive-pomace oils sold on import. 

As Members were informed of the devel­op­ment of col­lab­o­ra­tive stan­dard­iza­tion meth­ods amongst test­ing lab­o­ra­to­ries and tast­ing pan­els, they also took note of the recently imple­mented recog­ni­tion sys­tem for lab­o­ra­to­ries. The sys­tem incor­po­rates three options, includ­ing type A: Quality, type B: Purity, and type C: Contaminants, and opens the award of recog­ni­tions to all countries. 

Turning to olive grow­ing, olive oil tech­nol­ogy and envi­ron­men­tal con­cerns, Members exam­ined progress on sev­eral projects, par­tic­u­larly recent stud­ies explor­ing Xyllela fas­tidiosa, com­pleted with the col­lab­o­ra­tion of CIHEAM. 

Using this infor­ma­tion, the Council pro­posed a sem­i­nar on the dis­ease, which first appeared in the Mediterranean in 2013 when the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization claims it began infect­ing olive groves in Puglia, Italy. 

Furthermore, the Council dis­cussed the cre­ation of pilot demon­stra­tion nurs­eries meant to enhance genetic olive resources and another project to explore the envi­ron­men­tal value that olive grow­ing can pro­vide the world. Members also agreed to con­tinue pro­vid­ing numer­ous PhD scholarships. 

On Wednesday, May 24th, del­e­gates and the Executive Secretariat attended a din­ner orga­nized by the new Italian group Filiera Olivicola Olearia Italiana (FOOI). The orga­ni­za­tion brings together the pre­dom­i­nant olive oil and table olive indus­try groups that are based in Italy. 

The Council of Members’ ple­nary sit­ting took place on May 25th and con­tin­ued into May 26th. During the sit­ting, the Council adopted ten deci­sions that were sub­mit­ted by the Executive Secretariat. 

After the open­ing cer­e­mony, in which two rep­re­sen­ta­tives for Italian and UN agri­cul­tural offi­cials high­lighted the IOC’s impor­tance within the olive indus­try, the chair­per­son of JOPA signed the IOC Agreement for qual­ity con­trol of prod­ucts sold on import mar­kets. During the ses­sion, the Members reaf­firmed their com­mit­ment to var­i­ous points of inter­est dis­cussed through­out the ses­sion, such as stud­ies on Xylella fas­tidiosa, har­mo­niza­tion of codes and increased pro­mo­tion to poten­tial con­sumers worldwide. 

The ple­nary sit­ting con­cluded with a dec­la­ra­tion on the recog­ni­tion of train­ing cen­ters on olive grow­ing and olive oil. 

On Saturday, May 27th, del­e­ga­tions attended a tech­ni­cal visit to the oil mills in Italy’s Sabine region. The ses­sion con­cluded as the Executive Secretariat thanked the Italian author­i­ties for gra­ciously host­ing, and thanked the FAO and the FOOI for wel­com­ing the Members and orga­niz­ing the meetings. 

Moving for­ward, the IOC recently released a vacancy notice for open­ings in the posts of head of olive grow­ing, Olive Oil Technology and Environment unit, inter­nal comp­trol­ler and head of the Observatory and Information Systems depart­ment within the exec­u­tive secretariat.



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