Spain's Dcoop Acquires Stake in California Table Olive Producer Bell-Carter

Spain's largest olive oil cooperative and its Moroccan partner have acquired 20 percent of the company partially responsible for U.S. tariffs on Spanish olives in an effort to avoid paying them.

By Daniel Dawson
Aug. 30, 2018 15:17 UTC

Dcoop and its Moroccan part­ner, Devico, have pur­chased a 20 per­cent stake in the California-based table olive pro­ducer, Bell-Carter, Inc.

We will ship our prod­uct from Spain, but the oxi­da­tion process for the pro­duc­tion of the black olives will take place (in the U.S.), so they will be exempt from the pay­ment of the tar­iffs.- Antonio Luque, Dcoop

With this agree­ment, Dcoop strength­ens its posi­tion in the U.S. table olive mar­ket, boost­ing the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of the pro­duc­tion of its 26 asso­ci­ated enti­ties that cur­rently stands at around 100,000 tons,” the coop­er­a­tive wrote in a press release on its web­site.

According to sources close to the coop­er­a­tive, if every­thing works out as planned” Dcoop and Devico will increase their own­er­ship stake in Bell-Carter to 50 per­cent in the com­ing years.

Colleen Morris, the gen­eral man­ager of Bell-Carter, told Olive Oil Times that the California-based com­pany was not open to sell­ing an addi­tional stake to the Spanish coop­er­a­tive.

Bell-Carter Foods has sold a 20 per­cent stake of the com­pany to Dcoop to secure the deal and has no plans to increase this equity posi­tion,” she said.

The acqui­si­tion is widely seen as an effort for Spain’s largest coop­er­a­tive of olive oil pro­duc­ers to avoid the tar­iffs imposed on Spanish table olives by President Donald Trump. According to Antonio Luque, Dcoop’s pres­i­dent, the coop­er­a­tive will ship the black olives to the United States and allow them to oxi­date there.

We will ship our prod­uct from Spain, but the oxi­da­tion process for the pro­duc­tion of the black olives will take place [in the U.S.], so they will be exempt from the pay­ment of the tar­iffs,” Luque said.

Angelique Hardin, a spokes­woman for Bell-Carter, denied that this was the case stat­ing that the sale was an oppor­tu­nity for Bell-Carter to imme­di­ately increase their ripe olive vol­ume.

Bell-Carter was one of the two com­pa­nies that lodged an anti-dump­ing com­plaint to the U.S. International Trade Commission, which was one of the fac­tors that led to the Trump Administration’s 37.4 per­cent tar­iff on black olives.

In Spain, the effects of the tar­iffs have already been felt. According to the Spanish Association of Exporters and Industrialists of Table Olive (Asemesa), Spanish table olive exports to the U.S. had fallen by 40 per­cent in the first five months of 2018, com­pared with the same period last year.

Our posi­tion, as part a of Asemesa, on tar­iffs is the same and we will con­tinue to fight for their elim­i­na­tion, but this is a busi­ness oper­a­tion,” Luque said.

We have con­fi­dence in increas­ing sales of Bell-Carter in the com­ing years, that would also mean increas­ing our pro­duc­tion by 10,000 or 20,000 tons for export to the U.S.”

Dcoop cur­rently exports about 7,700 tons of black and green olives to the United States, both pack­aged and in bulk. Of this total, 4,400 tons are black olives and sub­ject to the 37.4 per­cent tar­iff. The coop­er­a­tive esti­mates that it will soon send more than 33,000 tons to the United States via Bell-Carter, mak­ing up half of Dcoop’s and Devica’s cur­rent table olive sales.

As part of the deal, Dcoop and Devica will exclu­sively sup­ply Bell-Carter with their olives. “[The plan] is to carry all the olives that can be brought from here to the United States, either in bulk or packed,” Luque said.

Acorsa USA, an American sub­sidiary of Dcoop, will also be inte­grated” into Bell-Carter’s struc­ture.

According to Luque, the aim of the pur­chase is to fol­low the Pompeian model. Pompeian is the largest American importer of olive oil and is also half-owned by Dcoop and Devico.


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