Fake Olive Oil Imports Anger Producers

Olive famer Gwynedd Hunter-Payne of Merri Merri Olive Estate at Woodstock. Photo: Eddie Jim

Sales of fake and substandard olive oil have shaken consumers — and angered local producers, writes Mary O’Brien.

GWYNEDD Hunter-Payne weaves like a rally driver between her olive trees. Gunning her trusty Subaru is the quickest way to show her passengers the impressive views. Norm, her faithful dog, trails in the background, barking excitedly.

Merri Merri olive grove sits high above the Woodstock countryside, just 36 kilometres from Melbourne, but it feels like another world. Mount Macedon lies in one direction, Kilmore and Mount Disappointment in another and, on a clear day, the distant Dandenongs are visible.

Hunter-Payne’s feat of steering between the rows of olives is impressive as the trees are planted in curves, following the contours of the land, like pretty green ribbons blowing in the wind.

via Fake Olive Oil Imports Anger Producers.

One Thing New – The Unadulterated Truth About Olive Oil

Add extra-virgin olive oil to the list of foods that might not be what they claim to be.

Now that the tomatoes in our garden are starting to ripen, I wanted to make sure I had everything I need to make bruschetta — toasted bread topped with tomatoes that have been tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and basil. But as I set out to research new extra virgin olive oils to try this summer (some people try different wines, I experiment with olive oil and balsamic vinegar), I came across Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by author Tom Mueller.

Mueller, who lives in Italy in a stone medieval farmhouse surrounded by olive groves, found that many of the bottles labeled “extra virgin olive oil” aren’t as virgin as they claim— extra-virgin olive oil means the oil was made from crushed olives, with nothing else added or other processes involved. What he discovered out about how resellers add lower-grade oils and artificial coloring to create adulterated concotions is enough to give any bread-dipping olive oil lover pause. Some olive oil isn’t even made from olives at all.

It was enough to turn Mueller into an olive oil activist. He’s started the “Truth In Olive Oil” project to bring attention to the olive oil industry and provide some useful information on how to find the pure stuff.

via One Thing New – The Unadulterated Truth About Olive Oil.

Olive oil labelling under the spotlight | adelaidenow

AUSTRALIAN olive growers take their campaign for a fair market for olive oil to a meeting next month in Adelaide.

It will be a state and federal ministerial council meeting.

Federal Opposition spokesman on Consumer Affairs Bruce Billson has called for the issue of misleading labelling of imported brands to be put on the agenda for the meeting on July 6, which will be chaired by state Minister for Consumers John Rau.

Mr Rau said he was happy for the issue to be  discussed under the general heading of food labelling, “an area of consumer law which requires constant vigilance”. Mr Billson said that some overseas manufacturers used exotic terms to mask inferior quality and sub-standard oils.

Mr Rau said: “The olive oil industry is very important to South Australia and the integrity of labelling protects our industry, which is high- quality and respected.”

via Olive oil labelling under the spotlight | adelaidenow.

China demanding more of our good oil | adelaidenow

OLIVE oil producers are enjoying a surge in exports to China on the back of rapidly rising wine exports.

South-East producer Grant Wylie from Pendleton Fine Foods, among the beneficiaries of the jump in exports to China, has shipped consignments there and to Malaysia in the past week.

“China is expected to become Australia’s largest export customer for olive oil this year, replacing the US which has dropped off due to continuing economic problems,” Mr Wylie said.

“All relatively large producers are enjoying very strong interest from China, which we think is riding on the back of Australian wine sales because the country’s wealthy 100 million people have discovered the health benefits of olive oil.

“We’re probably receiving at least one inquiry a week from China and our sales have trebled from a low base in the past six months.

“But it’s not just us, every large supplier is enjoying the same thing.”

Mr Wylie said that Australia’s exports to China appeared to be helped by its very good quarantine inspection department, which was keeping mis-labelled European olive oil out of the country, while the same poor-quality product was able to be brought into Australia.

Australian Olive Association chief executive Lisa Rowntree said the rise in exports to Asia was one of the factors which has been helping to lift the mood among olive growers, along with more optimism about the harvest and higher prices in the past few weeks.

Mrs Rowntree said the harvest had wound up a lot sooner than in other years, with national production down about 5000 tonnes to 11,000 tonnes, a better result than earlier anticipated.

The fruit was larger than normal with very good oil extraction rates compared with last year, while growers were being offered more than twice as much for their bulk oil by domestic and export markets.

She estimates the Australian olive industry is worth about $390 million which includes about $19.5 million worth of olives.

Mrs Rowntree is also hopeful of a better outcome from supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths which are continuing to use inferior, heavily subsidised and very cheap imported olive oils.

“They are still using a lot of imported product that is mislabelled, but they are both reluctant to be the first to make the move because it’s about money, numbers and sales,” she said.

“People buy ‘extra lite’ olive oil thinking it is low fat, but the only thing it is light in is health benefits.”

Mrs Rowntree said the industry was also seeing farms change hands with new people coming in to the industry with renewed enthusiasm.

“It has helped the industry become better placed for the future, with the renewed enthusiasm and increasing consumption driving it to the point where it will be sustainable,” she said.

Mr Wylie estimated Pendleton’s olive oil production was down about 40 per cent this season after a record season last year.

Helping make up for the low crop is the excellent quality of the oil this year and the opportunity to reduce stocks sitting around in Australia.

Mr Wylie said the Australian olive industry was at the absolute bottom of the 10-year cycle and he expected it to be onwards and upwards from here in the next five years.

“Producers are probably running at break-even and have wound down their expenses and are toughing it out,” he said.

“It has greatly improved the cost-efficiency of Australian olive oil because we receive no subsidies as they do Europe.

“That is one thing that may happen with Europe: they may do away with their subsidies because olives receive some of the largest subsidies of any product in the European Union.”

via China demanding more of our good oil | adelaidenow.

Designations and definitions of olive oils | International Olive Council

Where are the terms… pure, light & extra light?… Fact is they don’t exist in the EU…..  However, it comes down to what each countries laws determine as to whether that class of oil can be sold… The Australian Government appears to let in all of the grades… 

Designations and definitions of olive oils

Olive oil is the oil obtained solely from the fruit of the olive tree (Olea europaea L.), to the exclusion of oils obtained using solvents or re-esterification processes and of any mixture with oils of other kinds. It is marketed in accordance with the following designations and definitions:

Virgin olive oils are the oils obtained from the fruit of the olive tree solely by mechanical or other physical means under conditions, particularly thermal conditions, that do not lead to alterations in the oil, and which have not undergone any treatment other than washing, decantation, centrifugation and filtration.

Virgin olive oils fit for consumption as they are include:

Extra virgin olive oil: virgin olive oil which has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams, and the other characteristics of which correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard

Virgin olive oil: virgin olive oil which has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 2 grams per 100 grams and the other characteristics of which correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard.

Ordinary virgin olive oil: virgin olive oil which has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 3.3 grams per 100 grams and the other characteristics of which correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard.1/.

Virgin olive oil not fit for consumption as it is, designated lampante virgin olive oil, is virgin olive oil which has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of more than 3.3 grams per 100 grams and/or the organoleptic characteristics and other characteristics of which correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard. It is intended for refining or for technical use.

Refined olive oil is the olive oil obtained from virgin olive oils by refining methods which do not lead to alterations in the initial glyceridic structure.It has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.3 grams per 100 grams and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard. 2/.

Olive oil is the oil consisting of a blend of refined olive oil and virgin olive oils fit for consumption as they are. It has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 1 gram per 100 grams and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard.3/.

Olive-pomace oil is the oil obtained by treating olive pomace with solvents or other physical treatments, to the exclusion of oils obtained by re esterification processes and of any mixture with oils of other kinds. It is marketed in accordance with the following designations and definitions:

Crude olive-pomace oil is olive pomace oil whose characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard. It is intended for refining for use for human consumption, or it is intended for technical use.

Refined olive pomace oil is the oil obtained from crude olive pomace oil by refining methods which do not lead to alterations in the initial glyceridic structure. It has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.3 grams per 100 grams and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard.4/

Olive pomace oil is the oil comprising the blend of refined olive pomace oil and virgin olive oils fit for consumption as they are. It has a free acidity of not more than 1 gram per 100 grams and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard.5/ In no case shall this blend be called olive oil.

1/ This designation may only be sold direct to the consumer if permitted in the country of retail sale. If not permitted, the designation of this product shall comply with the legal provisions of the country concerned.

2/ This designation may only be sold direct to the consumer if permitted in the country of retail sale.

3/ The country of retail sale may require a more specific designation.

4/ This product may only be sold direct to the consumer if permitted in the country of retail sale.

5/ The country of retail sale may require a more specific designation.

via International Olive Council.

Cioloş Unveils Plan for Ailing Olive Oil Sector

A new grade of olive oil is among changes that could spring from an action plan for Europe’s ailing olive oil sector. Also being discussed are measures to promote quality via better fraud detection and deterrence, such as stricter and more frequent testing; financial incentives to reduce fragmentation among producers, thereby increasing their bargaining power with large retail chains; and increasing the leadership of the International Olive Council IOC by admitting countries where olive oil is not produced but is consumed. European Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Cioloş outlined the action plan to ministers from the EU producer countries of Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain in Luxembourg yesterday, saying he hoped concrete changes would be agreed on by the end of July following the countries’ feedback. The plan was formally presented to all 27 member states at a meeting today. via Cioloş Unveils Plan for Ailing Olive Oil Sector.

Inferior imports threaten Australian Olive Oil industry: Coulton > The Nationals > Latest News

Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton has spoken in Parliament about the need for further regulation in the Olive Oil industry to ensure an appropriate standard of Olive Oil labelling which would benefit both producers and consumers.

Mr Coulton said that a significant number of imported olive oils are failing to comply with Australia’s national standard and that misleading labelling practices are affecting the viability of our domestic olive oil industry.

“The olive oil industry is quite large in my electorate of Parkes where in all the river valleys across this third of New South Wales there are olive groves. It is an emerging industry that over the last 25 or 30 years has gone from a standing start to being quite significant. Over the last couple of decades we have seen more than $1 billion invested in Australia in groves and milling plants.”

“Australians consume some 45 million litres of olive oil a year, and this is increasing. I understand that Australia is the second highest per capita consumer of olive oil and olive oil products after countries around the Mediterranean.”

Mr Coulton explained that of all mainstream oils, extra virgin olive oil is the only one that has not been physically or chemically changed.

“There has been no compulsion for olive oil to be identified appropriately. Olive oil is often labelled ‘light’, ‘extra light’ and ‘pure’ in an attempt to market an inferior product as comparable with extra virgin olive oil. What is necessary are certain guidelines that are easy to follow and easily identified by the public and the consumers. If these guidelines were regulated then it would be possible for inferior products to be pursued by the ACCC for misrepresentation.”

“There is an immediate need to set up regulations so that the Australian industry can compete on a level playing field with the competitors from overseas. This would also show inferior imports for exactly what they are.”

Unfortunately both producers and consumers are being negatively impacted by the current voluntary scheme of labelling standards Mr Coulton said.

“Unfortunately, cheap, inferior imports have undermined the price of high-quality olive oil. Farm-gate prices have been slashed by 50 per cent over the last four years despite substantial growth in the industry over the last 10 years. Australian growers have captured about 30 per cent of the market with a high-quality product competing unfairly in the same space with inferior, imported olive oils.”

“There are also health benefits to the Australian public having these standards in a more definite way. As it is now, consumers may purchase oils that might be refined and then labelled ‘light’, which can be mistaken as low fat. Clear labelling would enable consumers to understand exactly what they were buying. A study in 2008 showed that 84 per cent of imported extra virgin olive oil was not actually extra virgin. Eighteen per cent of all olive oil imported was shown to actually be lamp oil, and this is not considered fit for human consumption.”

“The industry has been working steadily to create voluntary standards, which is good. However, while ever these standards are voluntary, we will still have inferior products and incorrect labelling without any consideration for the ramifications of misleading consumers.”

via Inferior imports threaten Australian Olive Oil industry: Coulton > The Nationals > Latest News.

Jimele | Supplier of quality fine food | Queensland – Australian Olive Oil Fights for Mandatory Quality – Australian Olive Association Fights for Mandatory Quality

Australian Olive Association Fights for Mandatory Quality

DATE: MONDAY, MAY 28, 2012 AT 2:24PM

The Australian standards for Olive Oil was published in July 2011 and since then the AOA has been politely working in the background to ensure that the Australian standards were adopted by the supermarkets and used by the ACCC to go after companies that continue to sell misleading and deceptive Olive Oils.

These activities include various meetings with major supermarkets to ask them about knowingly selling Olive Oils that are misleading, mislabelled or adulterated and when they plan to implement the Australian standard. The response was that their standard was voluntary and will ensure that “own brand” oils comply in the future however no time frame was given and no thing had changed on the shelves.

“Own brands” have failed the test and while some suppliers continue to buy and sell lower grade oils and continue to pass it off as EVOO unsuspecting consumers will continue to buy it for a price point.

A 2010 study by the Rural Industry Research Development Corporation (RIRDC) found 91 per cent of imported oil labelled extra virgin olive oil failed the Australian standard test.

A lot of the inferior brands come from Spain and are up to 50 per cent cheaper – which hurts local olive growers. Most are fighting for their survival and have seen their farm gate price slashed by 50 per cent over the past four years.

It is up to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to ensure consumers get what they believed they arepaying for. Low-grade products masquerading as healthy olive oils should be removed from shelves.

Keep the Australian Olive Oil industry alive….it is the freshest and purest Olive Oil we Australians can buy.

via Jimele | Supplier of quality fine food | Queensland – Australian Olive Oil Fights for Mandatory Quality – Australian Olive Association Fights for Mandatory Quality .

Horticulture Price hope for olive oil – Weekly Times Now

OLIVE oil producers are hoping for higher prices after a dramatic drop in crop volume this season.

Australian Olive Association chief executive officer Lisa Rowntree said harvest was in full swing across southern Australia’s olive groves, with growers reporting yields up to 60 per cent lower than last year.

But Ms Rowntree said the news was not all bad because oil quality was good and extraction rates were higher than in previous years.

Olives are a biennial-bearing fruit, naturally producing bigger crops every second year.

Like 2010, this was expected to be an “off year”, but Ms Rowntree said the downward cycle had been aggravated by weather conditions during the growing season.

Because of low prices, many growers had reduced canopy management, fertiliser and irrigation.

“When you’ve got to keep your costs down, people are cutting corners,” she said.

Ms Rowntree said growers last year received as little as $2.50-$2.70/litre for bulk oil.

Contributing factors included large quantities of low-quality subsidised imports, the high Australian dollar and tight competition for shelf space in supermarkets.

“Because there is such a reduction in oil, I think we’re going to see prices increase quite considerably,” she said.

“There are people out now chasing oil because they’re growing crops that they know will be low.

“They might pay $4.50/litre or more for bulk oil. I’m also hearing from people that the oil itself is actually really nice this year.”

Olive oil flavours vary according to variety, time of ripening, harvest date and the length of time in storage before processing.

Ms Rowntree said harvest had started mid-May at the grove she operates with husband Jim Longridge Olives, at Coonalpyn, in South Australia.

After delivering 15 per cent oil last year, Ms Rowntree said the olives now were producing 20-22 per cent oil.

“So we’re not bringing in as much fruit, but the fruit we are bringing in is getting much higher yields than we have previously,” she said.

Oil production across Australia this year has been estimated at 11,000 tonnes, compared to last year’s record 16,000 tonnes. About 2000 tonnes is expected to be exported, a 70 per cent drop on last year, and olive oil imports are likely to rise marginally on last year’s 29,529 tonnes.

Victorian growers produce more than half the nation’s olive oil.

via Horticulture Price hope for olive oil – Weekly Times Now.