`Blended Oils 'Bad for Transparency' - Olive Oil Times

Blended Oils 'Bad for Transparency'

Mar. 3, 2014
Julie Butler

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Products offer­ing a mix of olive oil and other veg­etable oils risk under­min­ing qual­ity and trans­parency in the olive oil sec­tor, accord­ing to the chair­man of the European Commission’s Advisory Group on Olives and Derived Products.
See Also: Greek Proposal to Mix Oils a Cause for War’
Spain’s Rafael Sánchez de Puerta said while most of the rest of the world allows such blends, he hopes Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece will con­tinue to ban com­pa­nies from mak­ing them for sale within their borders.

Rafael Sánchez de Puerta

OECD claimed Spain already allowed blends

Sánchez, direc­tor gen­eral of FAECA, the Andalusian Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Enterprises, was com­ment­ing in the wake of an Organization for Economic Co-oper­a­tion and Development (OECD) com­pe­ti­tion report on Greece rec­om­mend­ing the coun­try allow olive oils blended with other veg­etable vir­gin oils to be pro­duced and sold by Greek pro­duc­ers for the domes­tic market.

Other Mediterranean coun­tries (such as Spain) with a long-estab­lished olive oil tra­di­tion do not apply a sim­i­lar restric­tion and hence are more com­pet­i­tive on the inter­na­tional mar­ket. It is our view, there­fore, that this pro­vi­sion pre­vents Greek pro­duc­ers from com­pet­ing in the domes­tic mar­ket against cheaper imported blended oils (for fry­ing, for instance),” it said.

Hard to prove what’s really in a blend

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But Sánchez said that Spain con­tin­ued to ban local pro­duc­tion of such blends for domes­tic con­sump­tion. He hopes it will con­tinue to do so because“it’s very dif­fi­cult to test what’s really in such oils. And as olive oil is more expen­sive than other oils there is always the temp­ta­tion to take advan­tage of its image yet to include just a small per­cent­age of it.” This risks under­min­ing impor­tant efforts to pro­mote qual­ity and trans­parency in the olive oil sec­tor, he said.

EU rules on hybrid oils

As stated in the OECD report, blends of olive oil and other veg­etable oils are not banned in the EU. But reg­u­la­tion 29/2012 on mar­ket­ing stan­dards for olive oil does allow mem­ber states to stop them being pro­duced within their ter­ri­tory where the pro­duc­tion is for domes­tic consumption.

However, they can’t ban sales of such blends in their ter­ri­tory if they come from other coun­tries, and nor can they ban pro­duc­tion of such blends in their ter­ri­tory for export.

The EU reg­u­la­tion also says that the pres­ence of olive oil can be high­lighted by images or graph­ics on the label­ing of a blend only if it accounts for more than half of the blend.

Two olive oil blends among Walmart’s best sellers

Spain’s Borges brand tested the water in 2005 with Borgefrit, com­posed of 85 per­cent sun­flower oil and 15 per­cent extra vir­gin olive oil — a prod­uct the rel­e­vant regional gov­ern­ment author­ity, the Catalan Agriculture Department, promptly said could not be sold in Spain.

Meanwhile world olive oil leader Deoleo — active lately with trade mark appli­ca­tions for both its Carbonell and Koipe brands — hinted it would like to include blends among new prod­ucts it says it will soon launch.

During dis­cus­sion last November of its new focus on health, it cited as an exam­ple of demand that risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar prob­lems applies to 81 per­cent of men in India, a coun­try where Dalmia Continental — recently bought by Cargill — said in November it also planned to launch a blend formed by rice bran oil and 30 per­cent olive oil to join blends already sold in that market.

Among hybrid oils in the United States are the Pompeian OlivExtra canola and extra vir­gin olive oil blend and Smart Balance Cooking Oil, a mix of canola, soy and olive oils, which Walmart list as among their 13 best-sell­ing olive oils.

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