IOC disagrees with the establishment of the premium class olive oil

special category of olive oil under the name “premium”

Fοr the olive oil marketing programs and for the countries proceeding to new plantings of olive trees talked to AgroTypos Mr. Ender Gunduz, the Head of Administrative and Promotion Units at International Olive Council (IOC). He also mentioned the disagreement of IOC to the establishment of the premium class olive oil. On the 18th of February, the European Parliament (EP) submitted a proposal of the establishment of a special category of olive oil under the name «premium» to the European Commission. The «premium» olive oil should fulfill strict criteria regarding taste, aroma and nutritional value.

Mr. Gunduz could you tell us about the olive oil promotion programs carried out by the IOC?

There are many difficulties with the planning of olive oil promotion programs, because the planning should be specialized to each target market. During the last five years the IOC has been working in two ways for promoting olive oil. One way has to do with the member countries of the Council, which produce olive oil and have knowledge on this product. The other has to do with no-member countries like Brazil, China, Russia, Canada, USA and Japan, which represent interesting markets consisting of many billions customers.

The mode of operation of each market is different. For example, in China the price is an important factor for the consumers, in contrast in Japan quality is more important than the price.

In USA there are two types of consumers. The first one includes those who know a lot about olive oil and therefore they ask for quality. The other includes those who are interested only for the price, so when the european olive oil is of high price the imports immediately decline.

In Australia the promotion programs should be planned very carefully. That happens because Australia began to produce olive oil two years ago (as it happens in California of USA) and tries to “protect” its own production from olive oil imports.

In the European Parliament there is a discussion on the establishment of a new category of high quality oil called premium. Do you agree with the establishment of such an olive oil category?

IOC is against the establishment of the premium category. For many years IOC maintains that extra virgin olive oil is a product of very high quality. So if now IOC agrees with premium category, it would be like IOC was lying to consumers for many years. If we need olive oil of better quality, there is no need to establish a new category.

Till now the IOC accepts three categories:

– lampante olive oil

– virgin olive oil

– extra virgin olive oil

Many consumers do not know the difference between olive oil and extra virgin olive oil.

In the Russian market, for example, there are olive oils labelled as 100% extra virgin and others labelled as 100% olive oil. But the consumers do not know the difference, so they are not able to make the right choice. In case we want to help them we should inform them in a better way rather than creating a new category.

Which countries have been proceeding to new plantings of olive trees?

As mentioned above Australia and USA managed to get on well in olive cultivation. Chile and Argentina also try to become the new olive oil producers in Latin America. The truth is that Argentina faces problems with the cost of olive harvest and cannot find way to automate the harvest procedure. Chile is in better status, by converting vineyards to olive groves.

Turkey is another country which plans to increase its production. More specific in 3 or 5 years, Turkey wants to become the second olive oil producer country following Spain. There are many other countries, except for the Mediterranean ones, which cultivate olive groves such as Georgia, Azerbaijan, India, Pakistan, Japan, South Africa, Brazil, New Zealand and South Arabia. I estimate that in the next 10 years there will be many changes in the worldwide list of olive oil producers countries.

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