The global competitiveness of the U.S. commercial olive oil industry will be the subject of a U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) investigation.

Consumption of olive oil in the U.S. has risen approximately 40 percent in the past ten years and although production in the U.S. has also grown, most U.S. consumers buy imported oil, according to the USITC press release issued October 1, 2012.

Dave Camp, Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means, submitted a letter requesting that the USITC “assess the current market conditions confronting the U.S. industry.”

The Committee on Ways and Means, which includes members from olive oil producing California, “wants to make sure that U.S. interests are competitive… and find out how the olive oil industry is run in other countries,” according to spokesperson Sarah Swinehart.

Peg O’Laughlin, Public Affairs Officer for the USITC says that the request for this type of study “is not unusual at all.”

The USITC will collect information on the 2008-2012 practices of major olive oil suppliers worldwide, emphasizing the U.S., Spain, Italy and North African producers.

The study will address four areas:

  • Review commercial olive oil production, processing and consumption data.
  • Analyze the international import and export markets, including trade between Europe and North Africa, tariffs and olive oil classifications.
  • Assess factors affecting U.S. consumption, including standards, grading and pricing.
  • Compare competitive strengths and weaknesses of the major olive production and processing countries, including industry organization, olive oil processing and technology, governmental influences, production costs, marketing approaches and exchange rates.

The U.S. International Trade Commission is an independent Federal agency that investigates trade issues. The Trade Commission will hold a public hearing in Washington, DC on December 5, 2012 and will complete the final report by August 12, 2013.

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