“My best compliments and wishes go to the winners of the prestigious NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition,” the Italian Agricultural Undersecretary Giuseppe L’Abbate wrote this week in a note to Olive Oil Times.
My thoughts go to them when I plan the actions to be carried out to enhance the Italian quality productions.
“They keep the Italian flag high, and my thoughts go to them when I plan the actions to be carried out to enhance the Italian quality productions,” he wrote.
Olive oil producers from Italy have led the NYIOOC awards tally every year except 2015 (known by some farmers as Annus Horribilis — the horrible year — for its unusually bad mix of environmental calamities.)
Even with such a strong showing on the world stage, the market forces are stacked against producers of excellence who have to compete with inferior products, price wars and consumers who know little about the value of high-quality extra virgin olive oils.See more: The Best Italian Olive Oils
L’Abbate said to improve the prospects for Italy’s master producers he keeps his focus on three main actions: the “further segmentation of the market, clarity of the sanctioning framework and an adequate national sector plan.”
“Taking the example of the high-quality schemes planned for fresh milk and cooked ham,” L’Abbate said, “we should replicate the experience and also create a high-quality scheme for extra virgin olive oil, taking into account stricter parameters, in order to reward the efforts of our farmers in creating excellent products.”
To that end, what is needed is to strengthen and clear up the current legislation, he added.
“With the draft law on agri-food frauds we’re working on, we intend to provide a revised sanctioning framework for counterfeiting in the olive oil sector,” he explained.
“This measure, that recalls a bill that I cosponsored, is intended to give further guarantees to consumers and protect quality producers.”
Nonetheless, the willingness to invest in quality productions should be backed up by a national olive sector plan. “Its establishment and funding can no longer be deferred,” the undersecretary wrote.
“Yet, in addition to aiming at rising volumes, we should continue to encourage quality so that our country can maintain its prominent role, which was once again confirmed by the success of the Italian producers at the NYIOOC.”