`'New World' Producers Set to Announce Trade Group to Rival International Olive Council - Olive Oil Times

'New World' Producers Set to Announce Trade Group to Rival International Olive Council

Jan. 27, 2016
Wendy Logan

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For more than a half cen­tury, the Madrid, Spain-based International Olive Council (IOC) has had the first and last word on sen­sory and chem­i­cal eval­u­a­tion, stan­dards and the facil­i­ta­tion of trade for olive oil around the world. The entirety of the European Union and sev­eral other olive oil pro­duc­ing coun­tries are mem­bers of the IOC. The U.S. is not one of them.

As reported by Olive Oil Times last August, and as a mat­ter of pol­icy, the United States does not engage in part­ner­ships of this nature. Dan Flynn of the UC Davis Olive Center said, In Washington, the mes­sage keeps com­ing back that the U.S. does not want to cede any of its juris­dic­tion over stan­dard-set­ting to a group of for­eign nations.” But there’s more to the story than a polit­i­cal turf war. Voting within the orga­ni­za­tion is weighted toward coun­tries with the high­est pro­duc­tion, leav­ing those with the high­est con­sump­tion, like the U.S., out in the cold.

New World pro­duc­ers are expected to announce the cre­ation of a rival orga­ni­za­tion (to the IOC), the World Olive Oil Trade Group- Bloomberg

Recent reports of ram­pant fraud in the indus­try, as detailed ear­lier this month in a bomb­shell seg­ment on 60 Minutes,’ and ques­tion­able stan­dards for the chem­i­cal and sen­sory eval­u­a­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil have only served to strengthen the resolve of American pro­duc­ers to cre­ate and enforce stan­dards of their own.

Addressing atten­dees of the New York International Olive Oil Competition in 2014, California Olive Ranch (COR) CEO Gregg Kelley said, As far as the International Olive Council goes, we don’t spend a whole lot of time con­cerned about its activ­i­ties. Of course, we keep up with them and with what’s going on there, but (the U.S.) is not a mem­ber. There are chal­lenges they will have to con­front and it’s up to them to decide if they’re going to be sup­port­ive of a pro­gres­sive indus­try con­stantly seek­ing to pro­vide the best expe­ri­ence to the con­sumer.”

Yesterday, in an arti­cle on Bloomberg.com, Peter Robison and Vernon Silver posed the ques­tion, Is American Olive Oil About to Have Its Moment?” The arti­cle drew par­al­lels between the piv­otal moment in the his­tory of the wine trade when, in 1975, New World pro­duc­ers were finally taken seri­ously after a California vin­tage was judged supe­rior to its European coun­ter­parts.


So, as American-made EVOO con­tin­ues to shine at global com­pe­ti­tions and via tast­ing pan­els world­wide, and as the grow­ing indus­try con­tin­ues to build on the tech­ni­cal advance­ments in pro­duc­tion led by com­pa­nies like COR, Corto Olive and Cobram Estate, many are see­ing a major shift toward higher qual­ity and account­abil­ity.

California Olive Ranch is try­ing to do with olives what California did with wine,” Kelley said to Bloomberg. And this month, the Bloomberg arti­cle reported, New World pro­duc­ers are expected to announce the cre­ation of a rival orga­ni­za­tion, the World Olive Oil Trade Group,” whose mem­bers are likely to include Australia, New Zealand, the U.S. and other New World pro­duc­ers such as Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and South Africa.

The orga­ni­za­tion could some­day be yet another stan­dard-bearer, one that rep­re­sents the unique con­cerns of the fledg­ling olive oil sec­tors in New World coun­tries and their pro­gres­sive approaches to an old indus­try.

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