Production

French Growers Encouraged to Go Organic

Dec. 4, 2013
By Alice Alech

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Afidol, the Interprofessional Association of Olives for France, is encour­ag­ing French olive oil pro­duc­ers to con­vert to organic.

France has eight appel­la­tions in the sunny Provence Alpes ‑Côtes d’Azur region but only 12 per­cent of olive farms have con­verted to organic farm­ing.

Afidol says more olive oil pro­duc­ers should con­vert to organic farm­ing and carry the cov­eted AB logo (Agriculture Biologique) for organic prod­ucts on their labels.

At SETEVI, the International Exhibition for vine-wine, fruit- veg­etable and olive oil sec­tors held in Montpellier November 28, Afidol Director Christian Argenson admit­ted that pro­duc­ing olive oil in France is expen­sive – 10 euros per liter against 2 euros in Spain. At the fourth con­fer­ence orga­nized by Afidol in con­junc­tion with the Centre Technique de l’Olivier, (CTO) spe­cial­ists cov­ered a range of topics relat­ing to organic olive oil pro­duc­tion and mar­ket­ing. It allowed ama­teurs, pro­fes­sion­als and grow­ers to dis­cuss and share their expe­ri­ences and inno­va­tions.

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In his pre­sen­ta­tion Argenson said that although France had less sun and less heat than their south­ern neigh­bors this could be an advan­tage for the French. French olives are less likely to be attacked by the olive fly, he rea­soned, and the results would be oils with more expres­sion and inten­sity.

Afidol has com­mit­ted to help­ing French grow­ers in their con­ver­sion to organic farm­ing and has recently pro­duced a 15-minute video intro­duced by the President of AFIDOL, Oliver Nasles. The video informs oil pro­duc­ers what the AB label means and how to pro­tect their olive orchards by lim­it­ing and select­ing their inputs. Producers who have made the switch talk about their moti­va­tions, chal­lenges and dif­fi­cul­ties, as well as their views of future of French organic olive oil

Olive oil pro­ducer Jean Benoît Hugues from Les Baux-de-Provence, an elected member assigned to Afidol’s tech­ni­cal com­mit­tee, firmly believes in organic olive oil. He said that the two major chal­lenges are the olive fly and get­ting rid of the weeds. At his olive grove CastelaS, Hugues coats his olives, spray­ing them to hide them from the olive flies, rather like a con­struc­tion painter.

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He said, “we use an ini­tial two layer tech­nique and spray again after rain or high speed wind. We also need to apply paint during the growth of the fruits.”

Hugues doesn’t think olive oils will be a lot more expen­sive with the con­ver­sion to organic. “To me Bio or Organic is like leather seat in a luxury car, you can’t imag­ine one with­out the other! Our cus­tomers want and deserve the crème de la crème — olive cream of course!”

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Sources:

http://www.leparisien.fr/flash-actualite-economie/face-a-l-espagne-l-huile-d-olive-francaise-voit-son-avenir-en-bio-28 – 11-2013 – 3357923.php