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

N. America

'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.

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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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