As the Olive Oil Commission of California begins its third olive oil season, this program which exists to ensure that California olive oil is trusted and valued, is making some changes that will allow more producers to become part of the program and be recognized as members of this important new organization.
Voluntary Program Offered for Smaller Producers
Under the Commission law which established the OOCC, olive oil handlers who produce 5,000 gallons or more per year are required to participate in the OOCC’s sampling and testing program. Producers with less than 5,000 gallons are technically exempt from the mandatory requirements of the OOCC. At a meeting of the OOCC in early September, the Board voted to allow handlers with less than 5,000 gallons to participate in the OOCC program if they wish.
The ultimate goal of the OOCC is to give consumers confidence in California olive oil by verifying the grade of oils produced through a government sampling program. In recent months, the OOCC has heard from smaller producers who want the same thing. In response, the OOCC wanted to find a way to allow any producer – no matter what size — to participate in this government sampling program.
Currently, members of the OOCC pay an assessment of 14 cents per gallon which covers the government sampling and testing program. As an interim step, the Board voted to charge a fee not to exceed $700 for exempt handlers who voluntarily want to have their oils sampled by the government and tested for the eight quality parameters, plus additional tests for purity as required under the OOCC.
It should be noted that all producers with 5,000 gallons or more are required to test all lots of oils themselves, using a certified laboratory. Smaller producers are also required to do their own testing. And although they are not required to test their own oils for all eight quality parameters, their oils must meet all quality standards of the OOCC.
A working group has been formed to develop a fee structure going forward and a system that will make it more economical for smaller producers to participate. The OOCC believes the more producers who are involved in its program the better, because consistent, measurable quality in California olive oil benefits everyone.
Beginning with the 2016/17 harvest season, the OOCC will allow producers to utilize a service mark on packaging or in marketing materials indicating their involvement in this mandatory program. Many producers had been asking for a way to communicate with their customers about their involvement in this new program which seeks to assure consumers about the quality of California olive oil. The Board agreed to allow producers to use a new mark developed for this purpose. The mark (shown above) indicates the producer is a member of the OOCC and therefore subject to its provisions.
Producers interested in using the mark, but complete a Service Mark Agreement which verifies they are an OOCC member-in-good-standing. Once this agreement is approved, the OOCC can provide artwork files of the service mark for use on bottles, labels, websites and other marketing materials. Along with the service mark, the following approved language can be included on packaging:
The producer of this product is subject to the mandatory California Department of Food & Agriculture standard for olive oil.
The OOCC views this as a positive step forward in its efforts to communicate about the benefits of the OOCC program. Producers interested in using the service mark can download the agreement here.OOCC Approves Service Mark,