Olive Council Optimistic Following U.S. Meetings

Representatives from the International Olive Council met with U.S. producers, businesses and administration officials about industry standards and a promotional campaign.

Jaime Lillo, Mercedes Fernandez, Ended Gunduz,
Jul. 12, 2017
By Anthony Vasquez-Peddie
Jaime Lillo, Mercedes Fernandez, Ended Gunduz,

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Representatives of the International Olive Council (IOC) recently wrapped up a mis­sion to the United States to dis­cuss the future of the coun­try’s olive indus­try with pro­duc­ers, busi­nesses and admin­is­tra­tion officials.

We wanted to explore the ter­ri­tory and find where we can build bridges and coor­di­nate with each other and not over­lap.- Jaime Lillo, IOC Deputy Director

I think it was a very intense and pro­duc­tive mis­sion,” deputy exec­u­tive direc­tor Jaime Lillo told Olive Oil Times. We learned a lot from the U.S. perspective.”

It was the Madrid-based coun­cil’s first visit to the U.S. since the IOC’s new Agreement was put into action at the begin­ning of this year.

We had two goals for the mis­sion,” Lillo said. The first was to explain and talk about the IOC’s new Agreement, and the sec­ond was to talk about activ­i­ties for the next pro­mo­tional cam­paign in the U.S.”

The new Agreement puts more focus on con­sumer coun­tries and con­tem­po­rary olive com­pa­nies. Lillo called it a fresh approach.”

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Jaime Lillo, Mercedes Fernandez, Ended Gunduz

This new Agreement told us to go to con­sumer coun­tries and try to get the coun­cil closer to their con­cerns and under­stand their points of view,” he said. Also to meet new pro­duc­ers, not tra­di­tional ones. There was too much focus on tra­di­tional producers.”

The coun­cil also held meet­ings with sev­eral gov­ern­ment agen­cies, includ­ing the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Discussions sur­rounded qual­ity and health stan­dards while address­ing chal­lenges and per­cep­tions held by the U.S.

We tried to talk to every­one related to olive oil,” Lillo said.

America is the largest importer of olive oil and table olives in the world. The lat­est mar­ket report by the IOC states that olive oil imports are down one per­cent from last year while table olive imports are down two percent. 

Lillo acknowl­edged America’s sta­tus as a major fig­ure in the olive oil world but rec­og­nizes room for improvement.

The U.S. is already one of the big play­ers in the olive oil world,” he said. It’s the top importer of olive oil and is already the third con­sumer in the world after Italy and Spain, but with much more poten­tial since con­sump­tion per capita is still quite low.”

The new pro­mo­tional cam­paign is expected to roll out in the com­ing months.

We wanted to lis­ten to what the pro­duc­ers would like to see and to talk to the admin­is­tra­tions as well,” Lillo said. There are many voices talk­ing about olive oil — pri­vate bod­ies, coun­tries and exporters — and we wanted to explore the ter­ri­tory and find where we can build bridges and coor­di­nate with each other and not overlap.”

One more aspect of the mis­sion was to lay the ground­work for the U.S. to one day be wel­comed as a mem­ber state of the IOC. While that prospect may not become a real­ity for a num­ber of years, Lillo felt the coun­cil took the nec­es­sary first steps by forg­ing new rela­tion­ships between the IOC and key play­ers in America where few bonds had existed in the past.

Lillo sounded opti­mistic about the results of the mission.

It was a good start for the activ­i­ties of the IOC in the U.S. We hope to see the IOC closer to the U.S., and the U.S. closer to the IOC. That’s what we’re work­ing on.”



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