Olive & Oil 02/07/2012

The European Union planned to boost olive oil industry

During the meeting, attended, aside from Italy, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia, France, Romania, Greece and Cyprus, the recent difficult market situation affecting the sector was examined

The European Commission (EC) proposed Monday “an action plan” to help the producers of olive oil from the continent, affected by a sharp drop in the price of the product.
Comparison with the same period the year before shows that extra virgin olive oil prices prices have dropped by 11% in Spain (€1.77/kg), 10% in Greece (€1.84/kg) and 39 % in Italy (€2.38/kg). In recent months, prices have flatlined in Greece and remained virtually steady in Spain while perking slightly in Italy. Even so, they are at their lowest levels since October 2009 in all three
The EU recently adopted new measures for the private storage of olive oil, so it will be expanded from 150 to 180 days the time allowed to save a maximum of 100,000 tons of extra virgin or Virgin oil, in the hope that prices will recover.

The European Commissioner for agriculture Dacian Ciolos, discussed at Luxembourg the plan with the Ministers of agriculture from eight producing countries, among them Spain, Italy and Greece.

Olive oil suffers from a problem of falling profitability, due to the precipitous and persistent fall in prices. The EU aims to make olive oil more competitive, achieving a balance between supply and demand. But it also seeks to improve the quality of olive oil, more effective controls, establish more stringent standards and use more modern and effective methods to perform the analysis. Ciolos said.The sector accumulated losses, with the aggravating circumstance that last year olive oil was the product that was one of the biggest falls in prices, according to the European statistical office Eurostat.

"I want to express my satisfaction for the outcome of this meeting that led us to establish a common strategy for the olive oil sector, this after a market crisis that has lasted too long. I was particularly interested by the fact that some of those battles that have always been pursued by our Country, such as the origin labeling, quality standards and controls’ reinforcement, are now shared and supported by the Commission. Particularly important, I think, are the possibility to use the Rural Development Programs and the incentives on offer aggregation".
This declared the Minister of agricultural food and forestry policies, Mario Catania, after attending a meeting, chaired by European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Ciolos, along with other Ministers of producing countries, during which an action plan for the olive oil sector in the European Union was agreed upon. During the meeting - attended, aside from Italy, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia, France, Romania, Greece and Cyprus - the recent difficult market situation affecting the sector was examined. A crisis that hit not only in Italy, and on an overall strategy that allows the sector to make a quality, was agreed upon.
The common plan is divided into the following main points:
Quality and control: the action includes strengthening the control and sanctions systems. In terms of quality the document moves towards the direction desired by Italy, that is for an improvement of the quality parameters required for marketing authentic virgin olive oils. In particular, it intends to accelerate the dossier relating to the analytical parameters, that ensure the authenticity and genuineness of the product and point out possible manipulations and forgeries in virgin olive oils.
The importance of labeling was underlined: a bigger size of the characters is requested and aims to achieve greater visibility of the mandatory information, primarily the one on the origin of the product.
Structure of the production chain: the action involves the strengthening of producer organizations and will explore new measures to that effect in both the I and II pillar.
Promotion: it aims to strengthen promotion, making it more effective, attractive and effective. In this context, mention may be made to the national origin as well as ‘produced in the EU’.

di Alberto Grimelli