The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will consider a new standard of identity for imported olive oil after a citizen’s petition filed by the North American Olive Oil Association and the Spanish giant Deoleo last month.
Among the proposed regulations is a 0.5 percent free fatty acidity (FFA) maximum for extra virgin olive oil, lower than the current 0.8 percent limit set in international standards.
The proposed change was regarded in Greece as an illegitimate attempt by Spanish olive oil conglomerates and their American partners to bypass competition from Greece and Italy in the wake of U.S. tariffs.
Spain was hit with a 25 percent tariff for bottled olive oil to the U.S. last October, which impacted almost half of its annual exports headed to the American market.
Since then, many Spanish producers have started to bottle their olive oil in Portugal or Tunisia to elude tariffs, while leaving less room for profits, the Office of Financial and Commercial Affairs of the Greek Embassy in Madrid said in a market research analysis.
In a recent meeting, EDOE, the Greek Interprofessional Organization of Olive Oil, informed the minister of agriculture, Makis Vorides, about the petition filed with the FDA and asked for his intervention to protect the country’s olive oil production from what they consider “illicit practices,” Agro24 reported.
The ministry’s press release of the meeting contained no reference to the request.
EDOE said in a statement to Olive Oil Times that the contemplated changes would cause turbulence and further harm to Greek olive oil exporters.
“Such measures are not in favor of Greek producers,” they said. “It would be totally different to create a new category of high-quality olive oil with a lower acidity level than extra virgin like the extrissimo classification once proposed.”
“Lowering the maximum acidity of extra virgin to 0.5 percent from 0.8 percent will degrade several quality olive oils and will create market imbalances and unfair competition among suppliers of the U.S. market with a negative effect on prices and exported volumes of Greek extra virgin olive oil,” EDOE wrote.