`Blended Oils 'Bad for Transparency'

Europe

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 more: 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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