- Consumers in the United States are enthusiastic about the flavor and potential health benefits of olive oil but still a bit hazy on how to select, evaluate and describe this ancient but increasingly popular food product, according to a new survey released this week by the Olive...
Consumers in the United States are enthusiastic about the flavor and potential health benefits of olive oil but still a bit hazy on how to select, evaluate and describe this ancient but increasingly popular food product, according to a new survey released this week by the Olive Center at the University of California, Davis.
A survey report, which also suggests opportunities for olive oil producers to better package and market their products, is available from the Olive Center.
The study showed consumers need more information to help them understand choices in olive oil.
“The survey revealed that consumers clearly need more information that will help them understand the choices in olive oil that are available to them,” said Dan Flynn, executive director of the UC Davis Olive Center and a co-author of the study. “With the olive oil industry in the United States now experiencing a renaissance, this is the perfect time for producers to help consumers better appreciate the flavor contrasts between fresh extra virgin olive oil and substandard oils,” Flynn said.
The survey, which probed the perceptions and attitudes of more than 2,200 individuals during spring 2012, was conducted online in two phases. The survey revealed that more than 70 percent of the respondents were using olive oil for a variety of culinary purposes, including making salad dressings and dips, grilling, finishing or drizzling, and also baking. A surprisingly large number—86 percent—of the respondents indicated that they also were using olive oil to sauté and deep fry foods. “This was particularly interesting, because conventional wisdom has long held that olive oil has a low smoke point,” Flynn said. “Olive oil, in truth, has a high-enough smoke point for most cooking applications, and it’s gratifying to see that consumers have discovered that on their own.”
Olive oil is usually marketed in the United States as three different grades: extra virgin, pure, and light or extra light. No more than one out of four survey participants demonstrated an accurate understanding of these grades. For example, many respondents thought the term “pure” indicated the highest quality oil, when in reality it is applied to lower-grade olive oil blends. Extra virgin is the term for the highest quality olive oil.
Similarly, most respondents incorrectly thought that refining was done to make good olive oil even better; the process is actually used to make inferior olive oils edible. And most respondents incorrectly assumed that olive oil color is an accurate indicator of quality. Flavor was the primary reason for selecting olive oil over other oils, according to 80 percent of the survey respondents.
The survey coordinators noted that this result is significant, because earlier studies have indicated that two-thirds of the top-selling olive oil brands analyzed by the UC Davis Olive Center were found to have rancidity and other defects. The researchers suggest that consumers may be developing an affinity for substandard flavors, and that olive oil producers would be well advised to develop strategies for introducing more consumers to the flavor of high-quality extra virgin olive oils.
Eighty percent of the respondents also indicated that they chose olive oil as a healthier alternative to other oils and fats. Because of the importance of health benefits to consumers, olive oil producers may want to conduct research on the comparative healthfulness of the various grades of olive oil, survey coordinators suggested. When asked to describe desirable olive oil flavor, nearly 80 percent of the respondents agreed that “fresh” was a good descriptor—which is in sync with industry standards. However, the terms “fruity,” “peppery” and “grassy”—also common terms use to describe high-quality olive oil—did not resonate with most of the survey respondents.
These findings suggest that olive oil producers might want to highlight freshness over other lesser-understood terms in their packaging and marketing efforts. Flynn collaborated on the survey and report with lead researcher Selina C. Wang, research director for the UC Davis Olive Center, and Ben Moscatello, a senior business analyst and alumnus of the UC Davis Graduate School of Management.
The UC Davis Olive Center was founded in 2008 as the first university-based olive research and education center in North America. As a self-funded university center, it continues the university’s century-old effort to assist California’s olive producers and processors as their industry enters a renaissance, with novel farming techniques and rising consumer interest in olive oil and table olives. The center’s collaborative efforts have produced research in food chemistry, mechanical harvesting, olive fruit fly control, olive processing and sensory evaluation of olive oil. This research provides opportunities for graduate students to receive scientific training and earn advanced degrees.
About UC Davis
For more than 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has more than 33,000 students, more than 2,500 faculty and more than 21,000 staff, an annual research budget of nearly $750 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges — Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. It also houses six professional schools — Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.
Article source UC Davis Olive CenterVN:F [1.9.22_1171]VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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- Tougher chemical parameters for virgin olive oils are among a range of measures approved this week by the main decision-making body of the International Olive Council (IOC). Passed by the IOC’s Council of Members, most of the changes are designed to improve quality control. An...
Tougher chemical parameters for virgin olive oils are among a range of measures approved this week by the main decision-making body of the International Olive Council (IOC).
Passed by the IOC’s Council of Members, most of the changes are designed to improve quality control.
An increased tolerance for campesterol — the limit will rise from 4 to 4.5 percent — will help prevent the exclusion of genuine virgin oils with naturally higher levels of the sterol.
IOC Members finally conclude 100th session
According to an IOC press release, the 100th session of the Council concluded on Monday, having passed a range of recommendations from various advisory committees that had been pending since the Council’s last meeting, in November, lost quorum when delegates from Israel and Turkey walked out.
The new standards, which would apply from the 2013/14 season (starting in October) will continue “the ongoing improvement of the quality control of virgin olive oils,” it said.
Among the measures are most of the changes to chemical parameters and tests that European Union Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloș had urged the IOC to expedite as part of his action plan for the E.U. olive oil sector.
– Stigmastadienes limit: to be reduced from 0.10 to 0.05mg/kg for virgin and extra virgin olive oils. (The Cioloș plan said this would improve detection of other vegetable oils in olive oils.)
– Alkyl esters: the maximum level will fall from the current 75 mg/kg for the sum of ethyl plus methyl esters to 40mg/kg for only ethyl esters for 2013/14, then to 35mg/kg for 2014/15, and 30mg/kg from the start of 2015/16. (The Cioloș plan said a lower limit would further restrict use of deodorised oils.)
– The global method for detecting extraneous oils in olive oils will be adopted.
– Wax content: will introduce a new limit of 150 mg/kg for the sum of C42, C44 and C46. (Wax content was said to be a key indicator of quality and purity.)
– Myristic acid: the limit will be lowered from 0.05 percent to 0.03 percent. (The Cioloș plan said this would improve detection of palm oil.)
The IOC said other changes include:
– Provisional adoption of the method for the determination of alkyl esters and waxes with 3g of silica
– Adoption of the method for the determination of the composition and content of sterols and triterpene dialcohols
– Adoption of a revised sensory evaluation method. (No detail was given.)
Australia, with support from Argentina, the United States and New Zealand had unsuccessfully pushed for a 4.8 percent limit for campesterol in the context of this year’s meeting of the Codex Committee on Fats and Oils.
The IOC Council didn’t go that far but it did agree to a rise to 4.5 percent, under the condition that three decision trees are used to ensure the authenticity of those virgin or extra virgin olive oils with levels of 4-4.5 percent, for example requiring they have a stigmasterol level of no more than 1.4 percent.
Uruguay is joining the IOC and Palestine wants to
On Tuesday, the Council also noted a membership application from Palestine and asked the IOC’s executive secretariat to provide a legal opinion on the matter.
The IOC said that on Wednesday the Council received the legal advice – without saying what it was – and that “many members then expressed their position in favor of this membership.” A decision on the application would be taken at the latest at the Council’s 101st session, in November, it said.
Meanwhile, the members also noted the imminent membership of Uruguay.
Other business included harmonization of custom codes
The IOC said that among the highlights from an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Members on Tuesday and Wednesday were:
– A group will be set up to study the possibility of harmonizing customs tariff codes between IOC members countries in order to obtain more detailed data on international trade under the current general virgin olive oil heading (150 910).
– Another group will study a method for comparing the cost of growing olives for olive oil in different countries.
– The results of promotion campaign in the U.S. and Canada in 2012 and planned activities for one in Brazil this year and next year were reviewed.
– A proposal from Turkey to add “light green fruitiness” to the categories for the Mario Solinas extra virgin olive oil awards was approved.
– There was debate over the agreement on “autocontrol” of the quality of imported oils.
– The IOC’s financial rules were modified so that from next year some initiatives in non-member countries may be eligible for IOC funding.
IOC back to business as usual
Since its budget for this year had not yet been approved when the Council’s sitting last November was aborted, the IOC has until now had to operate with a clamp on its financial activities.
“The adoption of the IOC budgets for 2013 will allow a return to the normal rhythm of activity,” it said.
On Thursday the first meeting of the working group on the IOC’s future will be held in the lead-up to the expiry of the IOC’s current governing agreement at the end of next year.
Among issues on the table for the next agreement is allowing countries where olive oil is consumed but not produced to join the IOC.By Julie Butler
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from BarcelonaVN:F [1.9.22_1171]VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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- Despite conventional wisdom that olive oil should not be used for cooking, consumers do it anyway, according to a UC Davis Olive Center report. The report was based on a survey designed to discover consumer attitudes and perceptions towards olive oil. Among six areas surveyed,...
Despite conventional wisdom that olive oil should not be used for cooking, consumers do it anyway, according to a UC Davis Olive Center report.
The report was based on a survey designed to discover consumer attitudes and perceptions towards olive oil. Among six areas surveyed, Executive Director Dan Flynn was most surprised by consumer responses about cooking with olive oil.
Research shows that olive oil’s smoke point, the temperature at which it gives off smoke and degrades in quality, is high enough to support most cooking, but the “media, cookbooks and celebrity chefs tell people not to cook with olive oil,” said Flynn. Consumers “apparently did it anyway and found the sky didn’t fall.”
More than 2,200 consumers responded to the Olive Center’s online survey. After analyzing the results, researchers concluded that “consumers believe that they know more about olive oil than they actually do.”
As an example of the disconnect between perceived and actual knowledge, no more than 25 percent of survey respondents correctly answered questions testing their understanding of “extra virgin,” “pure,” and “light” grades, even though the majority indicated that they knew the differences between the grades.
Nearly half of the participants thought that the label “pure” designated the highest quality oil, and many consumers believed that olive oil labeled “light” pertained to its calorie count, when it actually means that the oil was refined and is more neutral in flavor than higher grades.
The survey showed that flavor was the top factor affecting consumer purchases of olive oil, but descriptive words used by the industry to describe the positive taste attributes of olive oil, do not always have a corresponding impact on consumers. Consumers agreed that that the word “fresh” describes good-tasting oil, but the words “fruity,” “peppery,” and “grassy,” did not resonate well as indicators of tastiness.
The report also revealed that consumers choose olive oil over other fats because they perceive it as healthier and tasting better, even though a large percentage of responders did not think that olive oil is good for consuming as it is. Many make their olive oil selection based on “best before date,” although a UC Davis Olive Center study showed that the date bears little correlation to quality.
Flynn believes that the report provide insight that producers or industry associations could use to improve marketing and to help consumers better understand olive oil.
Although the survey focused on U.S. customers, it “would be interesting to see how the results would compare to other countries,” said Flynn.
Flynn is particularly interested in doing more research on conventional wisdom. In one example, a standard piece of advice to prevent oxidation is, “don’t put olive oil in a clear bottle.” Flynn says the advice is good, but research could determine if clear bottles could safely be used if they were mostly covered by a label. He would like to do a research project simulating supermarket conditions with shelves, overhead lights and bottles placed on different shelf levels to “see what would happen.”
By Nancy Flagg
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from SacramentoVN:F [1.9.22_1171]VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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- A tale of Euroscepticism, political opportunism and a European Commission ‘own goal’.In the aftermath of the last European Union summit, one of the many provisions proposed by the European Commission within the framework of its action plan for the olive-oil sector unexpectedly...A tale of Euroscepticism, political opportunism and a European Commission ‘own goal’.
In the aftermath of the last European Union summit, one of the many provisions proposed by the European Commission within the framework of its action plan for the olive-oil sector unexpectedly gained global attention.
The provision, which had already won member states’ backing, would have required that restaurants serve olive oil in sealed, clearly labelled and non-reusable containers, instead of relying on refillable containers. The UK’s prime minister, echoed by his Dutch counterpart, publicly attacked the Commission’s adopted proposal by dismissing it as “exactly the sort of area that the European Union needs to get right out of”. While Dacian Ciolos?, the European commissioner for agriculture, initially defended the proposal as a way to promote quality olive oil and to protect consumers from fraud, he rapidly withdrew the measure, declaring that the ban was “not formulated in such a way as to assemble widespread support”.
The tale of the proposal captures many of the misperceptions surrounding the EU’s work, but also reveals how a rule that has the member states’ blessing can be overturned by a minority.
First, it illustrates the lack of understanding of the scope of the regulatory authority granted to the EU. While the Commission proposes around 60-70 legislative acts, it adopts – together with the member states – around 2,000 measures implementing previously agreed legislation every year. The olive-oil proposal fell into the latter category.
Second, it confirms politicians’ tendency to fuel misinterpretations of the EU to suit their immediate political calculus. In particular, it shows how easy it is to turn the public against the EU by depicting a rule supposedly aimed at consumer protection as the umpteenth attempt to over-regulate EU citizens’ lives. As such, it illustrates once more the cynicism of leaders who blame the Union for systematically over-reaching the exercises of the very same regulatory powers that they have entrusted to the EU.
Hence, the trivial, yet frequent, claim that the EU, at times of economic difficulties, had better things to do than regulating bottles of olive oil carries limited credibility. Denying multi-tasking ability to a political system is like suggesting that when one of us breaks a leg she should not breathe anymore.
More remarkably, this story teaches us that even once a rule has gained the majority support of member states (even though not a qualified majority vote) and has been adopted, it is still possible to get it withdrawn if political leaders of the countries that were left in minority are capable of spinning that story as the latest EU attempt at ‘regulating everything’.
The most pernicious effects of this approach are made possible by widespread ignorance and a profound lack of understanding of the EU’s basic functioning. Attacked by the disease of Euroscepticism generated by a few political leaders, public opinion behaves like a human body whose immunity system is deficient. By not having the right antibodies, public opinion does not react to the disease, allows it to gain ground, and even accelerates its spread.
It is the task of the Commission, as the holder of the monopoly of legislative initiative, to promote the development of the right antibodies against this manipulation of public opinion.
To do so, the Commission should systematically engage in EU-wide stakeholder consultations while assessing the impact of its proposed rules.
Unfortunately, in this case there was no impact assessment of the contested provision. As Ciolos? conceded, the Commission therefore could not effectively illustrate the merits nor prove the possible effects of the rule. What is more, he could not claim to have consulted with all relevant stakeholders.
This explains why the Commission, which proposed the rule and mobilised a majority of member states in support of this measure, eventually did not stand by its own proposal.
Only a highly formalised, evidence-based and participatory decision-making process could provide the right antibody against politically driven Euroscepticism. At a time of growing disaffection with the EU, this should be the lesson learned for the Commission from the olive-oil tale.
Alberto Alemanno is a Jean Monnet professor of EU law and risk regulation and director of the HEC-NYU EU Regulatory Policy Clinical Programme.
Article source: europeanvoice
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- VIENNA, Va, May 29, 2013 — The quest for olive oil perfection continues and a Virginia purveyor Under the Olive Tree in Tyson’s Corner Mall aids in that quest. Since olive oil’s popularity burst upon the scene some time ago and aficionados as well as experts shared...
VIENNA, Va, May 29, 2013 — The quest for olive oil perfection continues and a Virginia purveyor Under the Olive Tree in Tyson’s Corner Mall aids in that quest.
Since olive oil’s popularity burst upon the scene some time ago and aficionados as well as experts shared with the public the technicalities in using the best types — pure, virgin, or extra virgin — selling it only in dark glass bottles to protect taste and aroma, clear glass totally prohibited, we have been schooled in what to look for when purchasing the best product.
Keeping it in a cool, dark place, not keeping it on the shelf longer than suggested, all of these aspects of “olio d’ oliva” have been brought to our attention via television and newspapers alike. And it doesn’t take five minutes to ascertain what a bad oil tastes like.
Now a new procedure has been announced, and the Marcel Bernaud family at the Tyson’s store is proud to have been selected to participate.
Standards for olive oil have been modified through the last few decades, one of the last being in 2010 when the International Olive Oil Council, an intergovernmental organization based in Madrid, Spain, further defined the standards.
The United States does not belong to this 23-member group, instead relying on the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to assure quality and authenticity, adopted in 1948 prior to the IOC coming into existence, and governmental certification is available from the USDA on a fee-for-service-basis.
It appears to judge basically only on the level of free fatty acid content and little more. Purists and those who really appreciate the oil are interested in a more stringent approach.
Veronica Foods, a national supplier that was founded in 1924, has launched a national certification program to ensure certain extra virgin olive oils to be of “premium” quality, compared to the heretofore mentioned existing standards set forth by the IOOC.
The Tyson’s store was chosen to pilot the certification program on the East Coast, hoping that certification will spread nationwide and even beyond our borders. This certification would assure normal consumers and purchasers on what they should be looking for when they purchase extra virgin olive oil, the most popular of the types used in food. This supplier hopes to end up with a higher quality standard for the oil than presently exists.
The new category of Ultra Premium was created by Veronica Foods to separate high quality extra virgin oils from what dominates the so-called “gourmet” oils and “premium” oil markets as well as the broader category sold in mass markets everywhere under thousands of brands and private labels.
The average purchasing consumer would have to read extremely fine print on labels to definitively ascertain whether the “extra virgin oil” he purchases came from Italy, Spain, Greece, California or any other oil-producing entity. And one name does not mean the same in varying producing countries!
To be able to use this Ultra Premium designation with its distinctive UP label, the extra virgin olive oil (EVOO to its more knowledgeable purchasers) must meet or exceed a comprehensive set of production, storage, transportation, testing, chemistry, and organoleptic requirements. If it sounds impressive, it really is, but it will affect the taste and texture of the final product in a positive and satisfying manner.
The certification program is handled through the Modern Olives Laboratory in Australia, which conducts chemical testing on the oil to measure quality. The results or certifications of the oils that exceed the normal standard set by the IOOC then go to the supplier, providing the retail store direct access to these certification figures. The supplier normally does not buy oils which do not meet the UP standards.
This, in the final analysis, allows the retailer to place a special tag on the bottles as well as proper documentation on the fustis, which assures their quality in the same way that “Organic” assures quality in foods with that label, almost like a culinary Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
The Bernaud family: Marcel, Fabiana and Marie Clare, take pride in the fact that they will be able to mark their oils with the highest type label it can have.
For newcomers, these oils come in a wide variety of flavors including blood orange, basil, Tuscany, chocolate, and some 30 others. All culinary folks out there will find there is something for everyone at the little niche store on the lower floor of Tyson’s, and tasting is definitely allowed.
Article source: washingtontimesVN:F [1.9.22_1171]VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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- Germany and its northern allies could not tolerate that olive oil, the product of southern Europe, would finally find its proper place that is in sealed branded small containers on the restaurant, hotel and café table. Very much resembling a coup, the legal process that had...
Germany and its northern allies could not tolerate that olive oil, the product of southern Europe, would finally find its proper place that is in sealed branded small containers on the restaurant, hotel and café table. Very much resembling a coup, the legal process that had been going over the last months through all intermediate stages and had overcome all opposition including that of WTO, was overthrown. So, at the very moment that the amendment of Reg. 29/2012 should be making its way to the Official Journal in Brussels, the Great Powers intervened.
The Regulation therefore changes and small containers will not be mandatory, but will lie to the discretion of the establishment. In other words the old regime still holds well and the proverbial “vinaigrette” bottles, which leave olive oil vulnerable to enemies such as heat, light, humidity and fraud and which most of the time, contain old product remain unchallenged. It is the first time as far as I can remember (over the past 33 years) in the history of the EU (but also the EC) that the political power of certain countries imposes, in such an inelegant fashion, their interests, slashing at one of the three pillars, that of the Commission, which is a much more democratic institution than most believe (although that’s another big discussion).
The blietzkrieg of the past week
It is a sad fact that when the new regulation passed through the last hurdles of WTO and the European Management Committee, then, a coordinated communicative war began, with identical articles appearing and being reproduced in many countries from Germany and Denmark to Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, those articles were also reproduced in most Mediterranean olive producing countries. Unexpectedly the whole of Europe “discovered” the English Representative to the European Parliament, Ms Marina Yannakoudakis, who after criticizing the Regulation of the European Commission pointed out that the problem of Southern Europe, is not its olive oil but the euro. Within this framework, and under these pressures the UK, which had originally voted white thus making it easier for the Regulation to pass, changed its standing and aligned with Germany.
All this is taking place at the aftermath of the horse meat scandal. A logical assumption would be, that these “sensitive” to the protection of consumer health countries, should have realized that this type of protection simply cannot be left upon the good will of those who either through ignorance or self-interest speculate on it. Neither can it be accomplished for free, without any cost, or bureaucracy.
The Greek position
The Greek position should be only one. The provisional application of the regulation should become mandatory in the greek Joint Ministerial Decision, just as it is in Portugal during the past few years.
We should start preparing the Joint Ministerial Decision straightaway so that it can come to force as of 1/1/2014.
For those who are uncertain, whether the mandatory use of sealed containers, is to the advantage and in the interest or not of Greek olive oil, we would only like to point out very briefly the following:
1. The freedom of the consumer/costumer or restaurateur is not affected. The Regulation does not oblige either to offer or use olive oil. However, in case that it is being provided, then it should be in a hermetically sealed container and not in an open one that could be refilled.
2. The proverbial vinegraitte bottles have become, most of the time, a negative advertisement for olive oil. In particular the unfamiliar tourist can get a very wrong impression when a few drops of bad olive oil ruin a well grilled fish or a freshly cut salad.
3. A major proportion of Greek olive oil that is nowadays directed towards Italy in bulk at low prices, could find its way into HORECA. This would be directly in favor of olive producers, as they would be offered a higher price for their olive oil. It would also be in favor, of the 310 medium sized packaging companies, that are scattered all over Greece. Any conspiracy theory that the regulation is in favor of multinational companies is proof only to ignorance of the sector. To the contrary, these smaller, regional enterprises would come to blossom.
4. A very important part of the Greek 100-150 thousand tons of bulk olive oil, would be absorbed in the internal market, would be branded and show added value, offering at the same time, a culinary delight to consumers/costumers at a slight added cost.
Article source olivenews.grVN:F [1.9.22_1171]VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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- The International Olive Council is investigating why its data on olive oil trade in the rapidly-growing market of India show most imports are of refined olive oil while those of the Indian olive Association show that olive pomace oil predominates. As reported in Olive Oil Times...
The International Olive Council is investigating why its data on olive oil trade in the rapidly-growing market of India show most imports are of refined olive oil while those of the Indian olive Association show that olive pomace oil predominates.
As reported in Olive Oil Times earlier this month, Indian olive oil imports last season rose 74 percent on 2010/11, though to a total of just 9,400 tons.
According to data in the IOC’s April newsletter, nearly three quarters of India’s imports were classified as olive oil grade, 18 percent virgin and 9 percent pomace.
But according to the Indian Olive Association, a much higher proportion of the imports were olive pomace oil.
Based on figures from Italy’s National Federation of Oil Traders (Federolio) covering imports from Italy and Spain — which account for the vast majority of India’s olive oil and olive pomace oil imports – the Indian association said that in the 2011-12 crop year, virgin oils accounted for 18 percent of the imports, olive oil for 31 percent and olive pomace oil for 51 percent, compared to 21, 41 and 37 percent respectively in 2010-11.
“Federolio’s data should be correct as it is based on customs data of Spain and Italy,” Indian Olive Association secretary Shabnam Pareek told Olive Oil Times.
Asked for comment, an IOC spokesperson said that its data came from official sources in importer countries.
“In the specific case of India, it is the Ministry of Commerce of India that facilitates the data to Global Trade Information Services, which is the source that provides the imports figures for the IOC. In the case of export data, it is the exporting countries themselves which provide the data directly to the IOC.”
“The IOC takes note of the discrepancies and will submit the issue to its members countries to try to pinpoint the origin of the differences,” the IOC said.
IOC’s April market newsletter
Growing Thirst for Olive Oil in Japan and India
By Julie Butler
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from BarcelonaVN:F [1.9.22_1171]VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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- Spain has objected to releasing its report to the European Commission on its checks of the truth of olive oil labels last year, after Olive Oil Times requested a copy under the Commission’s transparency policy. Spain told the Commission that releasing the report would “prejudice...
Spain has objected to releasing its report to the European Commission on its checks of the truth of olive oil labels last year, after Olive Oil Times requested a copy under the Commission’s transparency policy.
Spain told the Commission that releasing the report would “prejudice the commercial and economic interests of the olive oil sector in general and companies involved in control in particular.”
The information contained in it “refers to monitoring activities and this information is intended for internal use,” it said.
Italy reported receiving no verification requests
Meanwhile Italy, the world’s next biggest olive oil producer, agreed to release its report, which — sticking closely to the wording of the governing regulation — said that in 2012 it received no requests for label verification under the relevant provisions of E.U. regulation 29/2012 on marketing standards for olive oil.
Under article 8 of that regulation, E.U. member states must take samples and conduct tests upon receiving a request to verify the truth of the indications on an olive oil package — such as that the oil is extra virgin grade or of a certain origin. These requests may be made by the Commission itself, an operators’ organization in the member state, or the control body of another member state.
Article 10 requires that by March 31 each year the member states send the Commission a report on the verification requests they received the previous year and the outcome. According to the Commission, Spain’s report this year was dated April 11 and Italy’s February 7.
Problems with label compliance check system
Last year, Olive Oil Times requested copies of the label verification reports the Commission had received in the previous three years by Spain, Italy and Greece and was told that in that period one report from Spain and two from Italy were received, all of which indicated no label verification requests had been made.
On being questioned then about the seeming flaw in compliance control, European Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Cioloş promised tighter scrutiny of the truth of olive oil labels.
Regulation on tighter labeling checks on hold
In March, the Commission published new rules under which member states must beef up their checks on whether olive oils conform to regulation 2568/91, which defines the defines chemical and organoleptic characteristics.
States will have to do at least one targeted check annually per thousand tons of olive oil marketed within them, and provide more detailed reports by May 31 each year on the outcome.
The checks must be based on risk analysis which takes into account factors including the price of oils in relation to other vegetable oils, the countries of origin and destination, and the relevant blending and packing operations.
However, a similar plan for more effective checks of compliance with the labeling and marketing rules in regulation 29/2012, and for more detailed reports to the Commission on them, is now in limbo.
An amendment to that regulation would have required member states to check the accuracy of olive oil labeling, “in particular the conformity of the sale name of the product with the contents of the container,” on the same risk analysis basis.
But these changes — which had been set for adoption by the Commission next month — were in the same amending regulation that would have banned refillable olive oil bottles from restaurant tables and were withdrawn last week by Cioloş over opposition to that measure.
A spokesman said the Commission wanted first to meet with consumer and restaurant organizations over the latter issue before deciding how to proceed.
Olive Oil Times has asked the Commission to review its decision not to release Spain’s latest label verification report.
Implementing Regulation (EU) No 29/2012 of 13 January 2012 on marketing standards for olive oil
Implementing Regulation (EU) No 299/2013 of 26 March 2013 amending Regulation (EEC) No 2568/91
Draft amendments to Regulation (EU) No 29/2012 on marketing standards for olive oil
This article was last updated May 29, 2013 – 10:10 AM (GMT-4)
By Julie Butler
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from BarcelonaVN:F [1.9.22_1171]VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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- When your business depends on an agricultural commodity, the ability to deal with inevitable shortages depends on seeds planted long before it happens. In 2012, Spain suffered from the second driest olive oil harvest season since 1947 resulting insignificantly decreased olive...
When your business depends on an agricultural commodity, the ability to deal with inevitable shortages depends on seeds planted long before it happens.
In 2012, Spain suffered from the second driest olive oil harvest season since 1947 resulting insignificantly decreased olive oil production. But the increase in olive oil demand and sudden decrease in Spain’s competitiveness is an opportunity that California-based olive oil producer Theo Stephan, who owns Global Gardens, hopes to take advantage of. She’s developed ways of excelling in the unpredictable and often turbulent olive oil market.
Stephan is both an olive oil producer and a marketer of more than 40 specialty food products. She has about 2,000 olive trees and more than 35 percent of her company’s products include olive oil. Although the increase in olive oil demand has increased her production costs, she uses innovation and unique marketing campaigns to keep her competitive edge.
“There are shortages around the world in any given year, but we must cope with them,” Stephan said. But she expects there is a market for people seeking authentic “Caliterranean” olive oil. California is the primary source of Stephan’s olive oil, but she also imports from Greece and other obscure locations from time to time.
“In this industry, you have to be reactive. I’ve found ways to be innovative based on the projections,” Stephan said.
In the past, she has had to promote or create items that require little or no olive oil, citing the company’s organic mustards and pomegranate sauces as examples of what she’s done to diversify the products she sells.
She also stands as consumers shift from relying on Spanish olive oil to looking to other suppliers.
“In the last couple of years, California has doubled in olive oil production and it’s doing very well. About 99 percent of domestic olive oil comes from California,” said Eryn Balch, executive vice president of the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA).
(Read More: Christmas Tree Growers Stymied by White House)
Although the U.S. produced less than one percent of the world’s olive oil supply last year, the country was number three after Italy and Spain in olive oil consumption. Despite the United States’ love for the product, many people still prefer olive oil that originates from Spain.
“The perception is changing and the stigma around domestic olive oil is slowly fading,” Stephan said. “For instance, when California started making wine, people were particular and wanted it from Italy or France, but the perception changed.”
One way it changes is through education. Stephan talks with her customers about the different types of olive oil and says her company depends on consumers wanting and seeking knowledge about olive oil. She has a retail space and tasting room in Los Olivos, Calif., with a staff of 10 people as well as an online store. The company also sells a “virtual tasting kit,” which allows customers to log on to the website and watch a video that guides them through the tasting session.
(Read More: Citrus Disease With No Cure Is Ravaging Florida’s Groves)
“It’s amazing because a 30-second conversation can make a difference in the customer’s point of view. The proof is in talking to people,” she said.
Balch also says consumer education is an essential part in maintaining a lucrative olive oil business. “There is a lot to know about olive oil and it starts with the basics. Like what the different types of olive oil are and what they are used for,” she said.
Stephan says it’s all about the terroir. “The soil and climate is what makes the taste different. We want consumers to appreciate that difference,” Stephan said.
Stephan may have an advantage over other olive oil producers though. “I can constantly educate my customers because I understand what I’m selling. If I’m not the grower, then I’m not the expert,” she said.
Balch said it’s important for companies to know their olive oil producers, or farmers, well and cultivate a relationship with them.
That’s a concept that small business owner Shaver Binici, founder of Olivita Artisan, shaped her company around. She said her family has been in the olive oil production business for more than 600 years and she started her skincare company partly because she couldn’t find natural soap for her sensitive skin.
“The demand for high-quality premium olive oil is high. More people are getting educated on why natural products are better and they don’t want to put chemicals on their skin,” Binici said.
She receives her olive oil supply from small farmers in West Turkey and says supporting small farmers and offering them fair prices is essential to staying competitive in an unpredictable market. Binici said it’s important to cultivate good relationships with multiple olive oil producers.
“Thanks to our relationship with smaller farmers we have not been affected by the shortage yet,” Binici said. “The smaller and weaker players need a company that can be with them through the good and the bad. When olive oil prices were low in Spain because of various government subsidies we stuck with the smaller farmers in Turkey and paid them fairly,” she said.
That relationship means more than ever right now. The demand for Turkish olive oil is high since Spain, once the world’s number one olive oil producer, only produced about 600,000 metric tons of olive oil compared to the 1.6 million metric tons produced in the previous season due to drought conditions, according to the NAOOA.
“Turkey is in good shape right now and the number of olive oil trees there is increasing,” Binici said.
“Due to the economic situation in many countries the consumption there is either flat or declining so it’s somewhat evened out globally,” Balch said. She added that she expects olive oil to be available because heading into the recent drought there were surplus stocks, which can offset some of the shortfall.
By: Karma Allen from CNBCVN:F [1.9.22_1171]VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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- Although of the highest quality, Greek olive oil is difficult to find in German supermarkets. But Italian oil, which is often mixed with Greek, is plentiful. So why can’t Greece market its produce better? With about 70 percent of overall consumption, Italian olive oil has...
Although of the highest quality, Greek olive oil is difficult to find in German supermarkets. But Italian oil, which is often mixed with Greek, is plentiful. So why can’t Greece market its produce better?
With about 70 percent of overall consumption, Italian olive oil has an unquestioned supremacy on the German market. Spanish and Greek olive oil account for just 10 percent each. But according to Johannes Eisenbach, coordinator of a network of approximately 1,000 small and medium-sized organic farms in Greece and Cyprus, this number belies the quality of Greek olive oil.
He told a meeting of the German Hanns Seidel Foundation on the Greek island of Lesbos that Italian oil needs to be mixed with Greek to produce the kind of quality and taste which German supermarkets require. The blend is a bargain for Italian traders, who can purchase the Greek oil at just 1.70 euros ($2.15) per liter before selling it at a much higher rate.
But, Eisenbach said, the arrangement is not that great for Greek farmers, and he had a suggestion as to how to improve the situation: “Greek producers and cooperatives would not be allowed to sell to Italian purchasers for a period of four years. That way, Greece might be able to market for itself the 20 percent of Greek oil which is currently in Italian oil.”
Eisenbach readily admitted such a proposal is radical. More realistic, he said, would be a much more difficult road – with Greek producers gaining their own access to the German market. Here they could learn from Italian distribution companies that have built up a relationship of trust with German supermarket chains after decades of guaranteed delivery, fixed prices and agreed quality.
Most olive oil in Germany comes from Italy
Need for change
Greek olive oil is working with an economic handicap. In Greece, olive trees are typically grown on steep slopes, so that fast and efficient machines can’t be used for harvesting. On top of that, the greater distance between Greece and Germany means transport also costs more.
And there’s another problem. As Konstantin Protoulis, owner of a olive oil bottling company on Lesbos, “In the last 30 years, the producers have settled down to making their living from state and EU subsidies.” That has to change, said Protoulis. “The olive oil producers have to go back out into the olive groves and cultivate them under the guidance of agricultural experts.”
With such guidance, the quality of Greek oil could be increased even further. Protoulis said that he’s signed contracts with hundreds of growers who have committed themselves to attending seminars and working to meet specific production and quality standards and to not use pesticides. He’s already managed to enter the German market together with his German distributor Bastian Jordan.
Opportunities in the German market
The Jordan family has been producing olive oil in Greece for over 20 years, and they sell it to gourmet restaurants. They haven’t yet tried to sell it to supermarkets. One reason is that they don’t produce enough – but they would have a chance if many producers in Greece banded together and guaranteed delivery along with set quality quantity standards.
What’s also important, Jordan believes, is the attitude one adopts towards the consumer. Part of that attitude, he said, is honesty.
“We don’t just sell extra virgin olive oil, which is the very top quality,” he said. “We also sell virgin oil, which is also quite reasonable. But the important thing is we sell it as virgin oil.”
Almost all the oil sold in German markets is sold as extra virgin, he says, although much of it is really virgin oil: “This is a fraud, which can be put right by honesty.”
But that means the public has to be educated so that it can follow the route of the olive from producer to consumer, and that needs time. Distribution and logistics have to be built up, and marketing has to be transparent.
Jordan is convinced that, if the Greeks take this difficult and demanding route, they have a good chance of success. After all, the average German consumes just 0.85 liters (3.6 cups) of olive oil per year – meaning there’s plenty of room for growth.
Article source Deutsche WelleVN:F [1.9.22_1171]VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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- The great olive oil farce It started with a food scare in Portugal nine years ago, and it ended last week in high farce in Brussels. The subject of the furore was a Europe-wide ban on what – until now – had never seemed much of a transgression: the practice of restaurants...
The great olive oil farce
It started with a food scare in Portugal nine years ago, and it ended last week in high farce in Brussels.
The subject of the furore was a Europe-wide ban on what – until now – had never seemed much of a transgression: the practice of restaurants serving olive oil in jugs or dipping bowls.
Critics called the ban “bonkers” and “barmy”; its proponents said it was vital to stop unscrupulous restaurateurs passing off cheap oil as the more expensive extra virgin variety.
The upshot was restaurants would have to spend a small fortune buying in specially prepared bottles of tamper-proof olive oil to serve to customers, many of whom had never realised there was a problem in the first place.
The Sunday Telegraph can today piece together the tale of the Great Open Bottle Olive Oil Ban. It is a story of vested interests, powerful lobbyists and an apparent failure of democratic accountability.
It involves a byzantine voting system known as comitology – of which more later – which allows bureaucrats to vote in secret.
The ban would have affected the eating habits of half a billion people in 27 European countries.
Costly, wasteful and environmentally unfriendly, it was of no obvious benefit to diners who enjoy dipping bread into olive oil served in bowls in restaurants.
On Thursday – nine days after the regulation was agreed in secrecy at an obscure European Union committee meeting – the measure was withdrawn.
But only after its existence had been revealed by The Telegraph on the afternoon of the previous Friday, causing such a media storm that the embarrassed commissioner in charge of agriculture rescinded it.
Critics say that how the European Union came to endorse such a regulation in the first place reveals in microcosm all that is wrong with its inner workings.
The origins of the ban were in Portugal in 2004 with a clamour to clamp down on fraudulent restaurateurs passing off cheap oil as a quality product.
The scale of the fraud there is disputed, but whatever the truth, the upshot was a move to tighten the law.
In January 2005, the country passed legislation requiring tamper-proof, non-refillable olive oil bottles in restaurants and cafés.
According to the legislation, the oil should be presented in “packs with an opening system that loses its integrity after the first use and are not reusable”. Any breach was liable to a fine of between £650 and £38,000.
Casa do Azeite, Portugal’s olive oil association, was delighted with the ban, which helped to boost sales. “Consumption of olive oil, especially extra virgin, has greatly increased, though not only due to this law,” explained Mariana Matos, the association’s general secretary, in January.
“Five years ago, per capita consumption was about 6kg [13lb] per year and now it’s more than 8kg per year, and rising.”
In 2006, Italy passed a similar measure.
Wind the clock forward to the economic crash of 2008 and southern Europe’s olive oil industry was feeling the squeeze. Consumption had been rising steadily across Europe for two decades but suddenly, while demand was still rising, the price was falling significantly.
Expensive extra virgin olive oil was being switched for the cheapest products, some imported from north Africa and Turkey. By 2010, farmers were starting to go under.
In Spain, which produces about 60 per cent of Europe’s olive oil, the price had collapsed by about 15 per cent in 2009.
“Pre-2008 I was getting a wholesale price of €2.70 (£2.31) for a kilo of olive oil,” explained Charles Butler Mackay, a Canadian living in Jaen, Andalusia, Spain, who harvests oil from 8,000 trees grown on 100 hectares.
“That price dropped to as little as €1.80 (£1.54) after the crash.”
By June 2009, the EU’s Advisory Group on Olives and Derived Products was calling for a “strategic agenda” to combat falling prices.
There are dozens – probably hundreds – of such advisory groups in the EU. Meetings are not open to the public or press.
The olive advisory group meets about twice a year and is chaired by an EU official. But key advisers come from Copa-Cogeca, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Europe, which boasts of representing the interests of 70 groups – including Britain’s National Farmers Union – and 26 million farmers Europe-wide. In 2011, the most recent year for which figures are available, it received half a million euros in EU funding for its various activities.
Copa-Cogeca has impressive clout and a hotline to Dacian Ciolos. Mr Ciolos’s name may mean nothing in Britain but the Romanian agriculturalist is one of the most powerful figures in the EU.
He was appointed the EU’s Agriculture Commissioner in February 2010 and was sympathetic to the plight of southern Europe’s olive oil growers.
In all there are 27 commissioners, with portfolios ranging from competition to climate action, who preside over about 270 “comitology” committees, which have the power to implement directives without the need for a vote in the European Parliament.
Experts estimate that the various committees implement as many as 2,500 regulations a year, compared with about 50 directives passed by MEPs.
By 2012, a drought in southern Spain reduced the olive crop by as much as 50 per cent, while Greece was suffering from “very low prices”.
With the industry in despair, about 18 months ago, a 10-strong delegation from Copa-Cogeca, led by Rafael Sanchez de Puerta, a Spanish farmer, met Mr Ciolos in Brussels.
That was followed in April 2012, with a trip by Mr Ciolos to Cordoba, the Spanish city that lies at the heart of the olive region.
There he met Interprofesional del Aceite de Oliva Español, which represents the country’s olive oil producers, as well as the country’s agriculture minister.
At this meeting, the Spanish lobbying group put forward a series of measures to revive the industry. Mr Ciolos left with an olive oil action plan.
Measures included: an insistence that the EU’s generous subsidy for olive oil producers be maintained in the face of pressure to reform; increased financing of olive oil storage by effectively creating a “lake” to regulate supply; the introduction of quality tests – a move that would wreck imports from outside the EU; and tucked away, a first public mention that “olive oil in restaurants be served in properly labelled bottles”.
The 2012 Action Plan – with its EU backing – was critical, containing a clause to “encourage member states to require the use in the hotel and catering industries of packages that cannot be reused”.
By the time the regulation was put forward for a vote, the wording had changed to: “These establishments should also be obliged to use oil bottles equipped with an opening system which cannot be resealed after the first time it is opened, together with a protection system preventing them from being reused once the contents indicated on the label have been finished.”
In February, it was put to the vote at the Management Committee for the Common Organisation of Agricultural Markets, one of the comitology committees, and 15 out of 27 member states voted for the ban, including the big producers of Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal.
Britain, at the time embroiled in the horsemeat scandal, felt it “awkward” to vote against what on the face of it seemed a food labelling measure and sent a civil servant from London to Brussels to abstain.
Others, like the Dutch, voted against the regulation and it failed because it had no “qualified majority”.
But – and here is where it gets even more complicated – the opposition was not strong enough to defeat the proposal either, so the measure came back before the committee on May 14, and this time around, the commissioner was in a position to push it through because of the earlier stalemate.
The backlash against Mr Ciolos’s decision was felt immediately; the northern European countries were fuming.
By last Monday Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, was being shown around the Chelsea Flower Show. He had had no idea of the vote and demanded to know how it had come about.
In fact, The Sunday Telegraph understands, only the farming minister David Heath, a Liberal Democrat, had been told of the proposal by his civil servants but he was not – it is presumed – aware of the full consequences when Britain abstained rather than vote against it.
By Thursday, Mr Ciolos was performing a humiliating about-turn. Proof, says the EU, that the commission is accountable.
A spokesman said: “It has now announced it will not proceed with the ban – because having listened to a wide range of views from stakeholders, national politicians, media and public it became clear that it did not command wide support.”
But Open Europe, a think tank that campaigns for a reformed EU, says the whole episode is evidence of the problems.
“That these plans advanced as far as they did reflects both the EU’s obsession with micromanagement, as well as the opaque nature in which many EU regulations are drawn up,” said Pawel Swidlicki, research analyst at Open Europe.
“This whole sorry episode risks further entrenching the perception that the EU is too exposed to lobbying interests and out of touch with public opinion.”
Meanwhile, Copa-Cogeca is furious. “It’s terrible as the measure was meant to protect consumers against fraud by banning refillable bottles so that restaurants cannot refill them with different types of olive oil and other oils,” said a spokesman.
“It has been discussed and assessed for over a year in a transparent and open way in all the relevant EU committees and EU advisory groups with all member states’ representatives and all stakeholders, from industry to consumers.
“The measure has already been introduced in southern countries like Portugal and the impact on costs for restaurants is negligible.
“It’s absurd that such a small measure that was meant to benefit both consumers and producers should receive such a reaction and that there could be such a huge U-turn by the EU Commission in a matter of days as a result of political pressure.”
By Robert Mendick – chief reporter the TelegraphVN:F [1.9.22_1171]VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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- Deoleo is a Spanish food group that quotes on the Spanish stock market. It is the world leader in sales of bottled olive oil.Deoleo has an extensive presence abroad with famous brands, which hold leading positions in the most important markets in the world. These brands include...
Deoleo is a Spanish food group that quotes on the Spanish stock market. It is the world leader in sales of bottled olive oil.Deoleo has an extensive presence abroad with famous brands, which hold leading positions in the most important markets in the world. These brands include CARBONELL, BERTOLLI, CARAPELLI and SASSO.As an international group, Deoleo has the leading brands in the areas and markets where it operates and only purveys premium-quality products.
At first glance
“Just as a drop of our olive oil is enough to verify the quality of our products, a few figures will suffice to give a sense of the importance of Deoleo in the world”
Deoleo is a world leader in the olive oil market thanks to the success of our brands, our choice of the best raw materials, our focus on research and development and the strict quality control through which we put all our products.
Deoleo also have the leading brands in seed oils in Spain and Italy, and a major presence in the vinegar, dressings and table olive markets.
Deoleo brands are leaders in the majority of countries. The Deoleo brands are Bertolli, Carbonell, Carapelli, Sasso, Koipe, Sensat, Figaro and Friol.
Deoleo brands are present in more than 100 countries, offering millions of families all over the world healthy, high-quality products.
Deoleo track our raw materials from the farmer to the consumer, thus ensuring the most stringent quality standards.
In 2011, the Grupo Deoleo’s turnover was 1,102 million Euros divided as follows by geographic market:
– Spain 30,5%
– Rest of Europe 36,5%
– North America 21,4%
– Rest of America 2,1%
– Oceania 3,7%
– Middle East 3,3%
– Asia 2,3%
– Africa 0,2%
Deoleo is listed on all four stock markets in Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Bilbao) with the ticker symbol OLE.
Click here to read Deoleo annual report.VN:F [1.9.22_1171]VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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- Conference ELAIOTECHNIA Syntagma Square Hotel June 8-9 (10 a.m.- 8 p.m.) Information about Eleotechnia International Fair: Eleotexnia is being organized under the auspices of agencies and vocational organizations, in collaboration with International Organizations, the participation...
Syntagma Square Hotel
June 8-9 (10 a.m.- 8 p.m.)
Information about Eleotechnia International Fair:
Eleotexnia is being organized under the auspices of agencies and vocational organizations, in collaboration with International Organizations, the participation of foreign organizations and important Mass Media as media partners. The fair is expected to be visited by the parties concerned, businessmen, and buyers from all over Greece and abroad. The fair shall be framed by important parallel events (Congresses, One-day Meetings, and Presentations of Companies etc.). Particular and special services of reception, hospitality and conducted tour have been scheduled for people in charge of important companies, chains of supermarkets etc.
Objectives of the Eleotexnia International Fair are:
- Full briefing of anyone throughout the world being interested in the sector of production and process of olive-oil and edible olive.
- Showing off of new products.
- Configuration of new entrepreneurial relationships.
- Strengthening of the buyers and agents’ interest.
- Achievement of profitable agreements inside and outside of Greece.
- Exchange of opinions between businesses and merchants.
- Strengthening of competitiveness.
It has been planned with the view of forming an annual event of such sector:
- It gives the opportunity of showing off the products of all the businesses and cooperative organizations.
- It gathers the supply and demand for the sector’s products and services.
- It gives the opportunity to all the interested parties to be briefed on the latest evolutions regarding the necessary mechanical equipment (for oil-factories, standardizing businesses etc.), the seedbed material, packing materials, renowned standardized oils, the analyses laboratories etc.
- It seeks to make get in touch Greek standardizers – exporters with the distribution and disposition channels of abroad.
- It gives the opportunity to collective sectors to show off their activities and work.
- It shows in a united place all about olive-oil and edible olive.
Sectional units of showing off:
- Machinery for the process and standardization of olive-oil
- Machinery for the process and standardization of olive
- Laboratories and organs of quality control
- Certification as per ISO and HACCP standards, Pumps, Engines, Tanks, Barrels, Stainless constructions, White tin works
- Seedbeds, Oil-nets, Oil-beating sticks, Agricultural equipment and fittings
- Paper and glass packing, packing machinery, Labeling
- Sanitation of premises, Protection means for workers, transportation equipment
- Public agencies, Vocational COOPERATIVEs, Financing agencies etc.
For more information clik hereVN:F [1.9.22_1171]VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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- Restaurants will be allowed to serve customers bowls of olive oil to dip their bread into – as the EU ditches plans for stringent new rules amid a storm of protest. It struck gloom into the hearts of chefs and confounded customers, after the European Union ruled that restaurants...
Restaurants will be allowed to serve customers bowls of olive oil to dip their bread into – as the EU ditches plans for stringent new rules amid a storm of protest.
It struck gloom into the hearts of chefs and confounded customers, after the European Union ruled that restaurants could only serve olive oil in sealed, non-refillable bottles that must be thrown away as soon as they had been used.
EU officials insisted the move was to protect customers from fraud, and improve hygiene, although there were suspicions that it was more about supporting large-scale olive oil producers in countries like Greece and Spain, hard hit by the economic crisis.
Restaurateurs were incensed at the very idea. London chef Yotam Ottolenghi told the Guardian it was ridiculous. “The whole contract between restaurant and customer is based on trust”, he said.
“No-one in their right mind is going to serve a little bottle of olive oil at the table. It doesn’t make sense.”
Small, artisanal producers said the cost of producing tiny individual bottles with EU approved labelling would be prohibitive, while others demanded to know how the whole system would be policed. Would legions of olive oil inspectors roam Europe, seeking out non-regulation jugs of oil?
Even more ludicrously, the Sustainable Restaurant Association pointed out that the ban would only apply to 100 per cent extra virgin olive oil. So if something was added – like salt or garlic – or some kind of inferior grade of oil, restaurants would be free to serve it up as they liked.
David Cameron took time out from discussions between EU leaders in Brussels to condemn the plans, declaring “It shouldn’t even be on the table, to force a pun – so to speak.”
Naturally, the idea triggered a storm of outrage and ridicule on social media sites like Twitter, with such gems as “virgin on the ridiculous”, and suggesting an olive oil theme song – “je ne vinaigrette rien”.
Amid such a widespread backlash, European officials were forced to reconsider. Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos stuck to his guns over the fraud issue, claiming “we want to avoid consumers being tricked”.
But he admitted that the plan lacked the neccessary support. Instead, he said he wanted to get producers, traders, restaurant owners and diners “round the same table” to come up with a solution.
If that sounds like the dinner party from hell, at least they’ll have something to dip their bread in while they argue over the way forward. Oil’s well that ends well, perhaps.
Article source Channel4VN:F [1.9.22_1171]VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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- Nine regional organizations representing producers, olive-pressing companies, refiners and bottlers, are joining forces in Sicily to support an application to the competent bodies in the European Union, in order to receive a PGI certification for Sicilian olive oil. The partners...
Nine regional organizations representing producers, olive-pressing companies, refiners and bottlers, are joining forces in Sicily to support an application to the competent bodies in the European Union, in order to receive a PGI certification for Sicilian olive oil.
The partners endorsing the initiative are: the producers Cia, Coldiretti and Confagricoltura; the cooperatives Agci, Legacoop and Confooperative; the oil mills Aifo and Asfo; and the bottler Federolio.
Maurizio Lunetta, president of the cooperative Aipolivo, has been appointed unanimously as the president of the newly formed association aiming to protect Sicilian olive oil.
Along with Mr. Lunetta the board consists of, Francesca Barbato of Coldiretti, Giuseppe Oro of Confcooperative, Giuseppe Giordano of Confagricoltura, Angelo Sillitti of Agci, Calogero Girgenti of Legacoop, Piero Pipitone of Asfo, Mario Russo of Aifo, and Manfredi Barbera of Federolio.
A committee has been formed to work exclusively and prepare all required documents that will be used to support the island’s application for the PGI recognition.
Protected Geographical Region (PGI) and Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) certifications cover all food products. They are awarded to reflect on the labeled products the character of a specific local region or unique know-how.
“The idea of a PGI extra virgin oil from Sicily found immediately a great acceptance within the olive oil industry,” said Maurizio Lunetta. “The PGI certification is a tool that, if used effectively will increase the added value of Sicilian olive oil. It will help local industry to work in a sustainable profit when very often this is not the case,” he said.
The initiative is encouraged by the Regional Department of Agriculture.
Sicily is the third major producer of olive oil in Italy with a production of approximately 3 million tons of olive fruit and 50,000 tons of olive oil. This production translates to €220 million in revenues for the industry and €500 million for the related market. Sicily’s olive crop is essentially organic with some 16,000 hectares of olive trees cultivated according to traditional methods of production.
More than 40 olive oil products coming from Italy have been awarded either PDO or PGI certifications – from as early as 1996 when the first registrations were published. Italian producers were among the first to capitalize on such product differentiation and this is reflected in sales and market share worldwide.
The examination of an application takes a long time though. Two Italian applications from Terra d’ Otranto applied on March 1, 2011 and Umbria applied on October 17, 2011 are still in the processing phase.
The first Italian olive oils to receive PDO certification on July 2, 1996, were Canino, Sabina, Brisighella, and Aprutino Pescarese.
Article by Michael Angelopoulos
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Anavyssos, GreeceVN:F [1.9.22_1171]VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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- Our olive groves have one scare after another. Turns out that the major threat to olive groves is not the expansion of Chinese crops, the Moroccan production, the low prices or the Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The biggest problem can already be seen in the...
Our olive groves have one scare after another. Turns out that the major threat to olive groves is not the expansion of Chinese crops, the Moroccan production, the low prices or the Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The biggest problem can already be seen in the horizon and it is much more serious than the ones mentioned above. This threat is the fracking – also called hydraulic fracturing. We better get used to the name and to the name of the company behind it: Oil & Gas Capital, Ltd.
This technique is based on the extraction of natural gas by the drilling of a well, first vertically and then with turns and continuing horizontally. A mix of water and sand is pumped into the well at high pressure together with almost 400 different chemicals. These wells reach depths of around 2,000 and 3,000 meters but they could even reach 5,000 meters below ground.
The slate breaks and allows the release of natural gas. According to a report of the European Parliament, among the substances that are injected we can find toxic, allergenic, mutagenic and carcinogenic substances—damaging releases that the companies have done their utmost to not have to declare them.
Article By Marcos Catena Viedma | Úbeda from OliveOilTimesVN:F [1.9.22_1171]VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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- Olive oil, the liquid gold of the ancients was touted for its nutritional, medicinal, and cosmetic value. As a fuel it illuminated the home. As a food ingredient it was a feast to the palate. Olive oil production is one of the world’s oldest industries. Interestingly, much...
Olive oil, the liquid gold of the ancients was touted for its nutritional, medicinal, and cosmetic value. As a fuel it illuminated the home. As a food ingredient it was a feast to the palate. Olive oil production is one of the world’s oldest industries. Interestingly, much of this ancient industry has not changed over the millennia.
As the numerous olive oil brochures of the Mediterranean coastal region proudly claim, the olive oil industry dates back over 5000 years, as evidenced by the discovery of a 5000 year old olive oil earthenware vessel in Turkey. Needless to say that shemen zayis (olive oil), as mentioned in the Torah which was given 3300 years ago, is one of the seven special species of Eretz Yisroel. The Torah requires the purest of pure olive oil, shemen zayis zach, to light the menorah. Olive oil was an integral part of the service in the Bais Hamikdash, the Holy Temple. Of course the olive branch symbol of peace was the branch that the dove brought back to Noah’s ark signaling that the end of their year long confinement during the flood was in sight.
Today, olive oil’s popularity has dramatically increased and has taken the health conscience market by storm. Premium quality olive oil under reliable kosher certification is imported from Crete, Greece, Italy, Morocco, Spain, Turkey, Tunisia, and of course Israel.
The Star-K hotline receives numerous questions regarding the kashrus of olive oil. What is the difference between the processing of olive oil and other vegetable oils? What exactly is extra virgin olive oil? Are there additional kashrus concerns? Let us take a closer look at the contemporary industry of antiquity.
What Is Vegetable Oil?
Olive, corn, soybeans and all other seed oils fall into the general family of oils known as vegetable oils. Vegetable oil is one of the liquid substances that is extracted from the vegetable. Vegetable oil is almost entirely made up of the fat of the vegetable. It can be liquid at room temperature, as in the case of corn, cottonseed, soybean, or olive oil. In the case of cocoa butter, coconut, or palm oil, the oil is solid at room temperature. Some vegetable oils are extracted from the seed of the vegetable, as in corn, soybeans, peanuts, hazelnuts, and sunflowers. Some vegetable oils come from the “fruit of the vegetable,” as in olives and palm.
A variety of processes are used to extract oils. Chemical extraction uses heat and solvents. Cold pressing, also known as physical or mechanical extraction, does not use processing aids. All varieties of vegetable oils are expressed through chemicals and heat. Cold pressing is unique to olive oil.
There are two types of chemical extraction. One method uses high heat and a solvent, such as hexane, to draw out the oil. The solvent is then evaporated, leaving the vegetable oil. Expellar pressing, another method of chemical extraction, expresses the vegetable oil through high heat and pressure. The freshly extracted vegetable oil is known as crude vegetable oil, which is dark and generally bitter, necessitating further refining before becoming an edible oil.
The Cold Pressing Miracle
Olive oil is truly one of Hashem’s unique creations. It is unique because olive oil is the only fruit oil that can be extracted through cold pressing. This means that the oil only needs to be squeezed out; no further refining is required. It is ready for consumption. Although the heavy grindstones and millstones that crushed and expressed the olive oil in ancient times have given way to mechanical crushers and centrifuges, cold pressing extraction has remained virtually unchanged. Once separated, the freshly squeezed olive oil needs no further refining. The olive oil’s quality is rated by its acidity content. If there is little or no acidity, then this supreme quality olive oil is labeled extra extra virgin; up to .5% acidity, the oil is considered extra virgin, and from 1 to 1.5% acidity, virgin olive oil. These naturally squeezed oils are robust, flavorful and full bodied! The oil is filtered through a cold filter press and is ready to go.
In the event that the cold pressed olive oil’s acidity level is too high, the oil would be too bitter to consume. Refining in a manner similar to the other crude vegetable oils would be necessary.
Refining Vegetable Oil
Four basic steps are used to refine oil: Neutralization and separation, bleaching and deodorizing.
Neutralization and Separation: When an oil is neutralized, sodium hydroxide, also known as caustic soda, is added to lower the acidity. This neutralizes the bitter taste of the crude oil by combining with the oil to create a sodium salt which is then separated out from the oil and used for soap stock. The neutralized oil then is ready for bleaching.
Bleaching: Diatomaceous earth is added to bleach and absorb the dark colored particles of the oil in order to give it a clear color.
Deodorization: Any off smell that the oil may have is then removed through a process known as deodorization. The oil is heated to very high temperatures in a 12 meter tall deodorizer. Vacuum and high heat remove any smell. The result is a clear, odorless, refined vegetable oil.
In the event that a refinery only processes vegetable oil, the kashrus issues regarding equipment are minimal. However, oil refineries in the United States frequently refine tallow as well as vegetable oil on the same equipment. Cleaning and kosherizing a 12 meter high deodorizer that has been deodorizing tallow is nearly impossible; ask any housewife who has to clean a greasy, oily, caked-on frying pan, then multiply it by 12 meters! Consequently, many reliable kashrus agencies would not kosher certify vegetable oil deodorized on a common animal/vegetable deodorizer. Due to these issues, any refined vegetable oil or any product containing vegetable oil, requires reliable kosher certification.1
Naming the Olive Oil
Often we see (on the super market shelves) various varieties of olive oil alongside the extra virgin olive oil sold under the following “noms de market”: pure olive oil, extra light, or refined pomace olive oil. What are they? Pure olive oil is a combination of extra virgin and refined olive oil. Extra light is the popular name for refined olive oil. Pomace olive oil is the refined oil that is extracted through a second heat extraction. After cold pressing, the pressed olive pulp undergoes secondary high heat extractions in order to remove any residual olive oil from the olive stock. This crude oil, also known as pomace oil, would be subject to the same refining processes as other crude vegetable oils. Normally pomace oil is used in manufacturing applications such as the olive oil found in canned sardines. It can, however, be sold as a consumer item.
Kosher Oil Transport
The Talmud relates2 that when Daniel was in the court of Nebuchadnetzer, King of Babylon, he refrained from eating non supervised olive oil because he suspected that the oil may have been adulterated or contaminated. Furthermore Daniel suspected that the vessels that held the oil could have been smeared with non-kosher fats or oils. The Talmud questions whether or not the Rabbis should permit non-supervised olive oil. This was subject to many opinions. The Talmud concludes that Rabbi Yehuda Nasia and his Rabbinical court permitted this oil. According to the halacha, there is no Rabbinical prohibition of shemen akum.
Is there a real concern for olive oil adulteration today? Given that extra virgin olive oil is such a high end commodity, adulteration is very inviting. However, safeguards have been set up by the International Olive Oil Board to counter this. The board has a major responsibility to their constituency, namely that the olive oil sold in the U.S. is pure and untainted. The quality control standards stipulate that each production of extra virgin olive oil must undergo a battery of quality control testing to assure its integrity. With the producer’s reputation on the line, olive oil adulteration is almost impossible. Over the years, however, there have been allegations of compromise in various oil facilities.
The alleged “counterfeit” oil that has been known to pass as an olive oil and possibly squeak by the delta 7 test for olive oil adulteration, is hazelnut oil. Any other vegetable oil would be spotted immediately. However the fear of getting caught, fined and blackballed would give any fraudulent olive oil producer pause. There have been allegations in the past. However, none have been conclusively proven with hard core evidence. Furthermore, it is important for the kosher consumer to note that the olive oil producing countries do not refine any animal fats in their oil refineries.
The issues concerning the transport of kosher vegetable oils from global ports is as real today as it was in Nebuchadnetzer’s court . The wooden cask, clay jug and leather flask have been replaced with 55 gallon drums, 5 gallon tins and plastic bottles. New drums and packaging solve the concerns of retail packaging. However, the new reality of reusable plastic flex tankers and the age old issue of common carrier transport in trucks and ocean vessels, is a real kashrus issue. The problem with shipping kosher oil in a common shipping vessel is further exacerbated due to possible contamination of kosher oil from non-kosher wine vinegar and/or animal based fats and chemicals shipped in adjoining shipping compartments. Kosher truck transport has been a front burner issue as well. Trucking companies sensitive to the kashrus concerns of kosher certification agencies, have set aside dedicated carriers or kosherization protocol for common carriers. The problem of common shipping carriers has been solved by establishing a criteria for kosher food transport in shipping vessels with the cooperation of tanker transport companies. The kosher criteria is as follows: The last 3 shipments prior to the transporting of kosher certified product has to be a kosher grade product. During the transport of the kosher certified product, no non-kosher product can be shipped in adjoining compartments of the vessel.
Although tallow production is uncommon in olive oil producing countries, tallow shipments from foreign sources are not uncommon. Therefore, oil refineries still require kosher certification.
Are there any Pesach kashrus concerns? As we have mentioned, seed oils such as corn and soybean, which are not used for Pesach are commonly refined in the same facility that produces extra virgin olive oil. The holding tanks for extra virgin olive oil are always separate from the seed oils. At times, there could be a co-mingling of common filters, fillers, and hoses. Furthermore, some facilities add citric acid to extra virgin olive oil although this practice is highly uncommon.
Zayis ra’anan yafeh pri to’ar kara Hashem shimecha3. Hashem compares the nation of Israel to the beautiful fruit of an olive tree. The Medrash questions why Israel is likened to an olive tree. Don’t other beautiful trees or beautiful fruits merit comparison? Why not the delicious grape or the tall majestic cedar? The olive tree is strong and durable and can live for centuries. The main purpose of the olive is not for its fruit but for the delicious oil that the fruit contains. However the oil is not easily obtained. The tree has to be shaken to loosen the olives. The olives must be crushed, ground and pressed under the weight of heavy mill stones. Then the delicious oil is extracted. So too the nation of Israel. Constantly subjected to the pressures and criticism of a hostile world, it is under these challenges that our great strength, fortitude, and resilience exudes from within our national collective self. Only then does the collective national sweetness of achdus, unity, come to the fore. Like delicious olive oil, we rise to the occasion and weather the challenges.
Article source kashrutVN:F [1.9.22_1171]VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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