Olive Crazy: All About Olives and Olive Oil
Jun 012011

When people buy olive oil they want to know the quality of the oil they are actually paying for. Consumers want real standards, not marketing baloney dressed up to look like standards.

This month, Australia and New Zealand begin putting olive oil standards into place. Now consumers in those two countries don’t have to scratch their heads and wonder what “light” or “pure” olive oil means. “Light” and “pure” are fake marketing terms that mean absolutely nothing, at least when it comes to olive oil. The terms that do mean something are: Extra Virgin, Virgin, Refined, and Pomace. There are variations on these, but the terms actually mean something.

When I wrote the article Olive Oil Standards Get a Facelift, I was talking about the U.S. standards, which are very lame. The U.S. has lots of work to do when it comes to recognizing that their olive oil industry is a liquid gold mine, and that strong consumer and grower protection standards will protect the U.S. olive and olive oil industry, but that’s a story for another day. Bravo to Australia and New Zealand for thinking ahead.

The International Olive Council isn’t happy about the new AU/NZ standards, ’cause they’re busy trying to protect the exports of their few original member countries whose government-subsidized olive oil pricing structures are going away. The IOC is big on quality, but not when it comes to their core membership, and when their member countries’ Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) gets “busted” in lab and sensory testing the IOC Executive Director (the latest is Jean-Louis Barjol of France) pitches a fit and blames the countries who are looking out for their consumers.

Australia and New Zealand may not be doing it exactly “like it has always been done”, but they are doing what is right for their consumers.

May the sun shine through your branches.


  4 Responses to “New Olive Oil Labelling Standards for Australia and New Zealand”

Comments (4)
  1. The International Olive Council must really be upset with Australia and New Zealand because like the United States there looking out for the best interests of their consumers.

  2. I guess since they are under the protection of the United Nations they feel entitled to prop up their original members instead of the industry they represent and the consumers of that industry.

  3. Not all New Zealand olive growers support the Australian ‘standards”. Believe it or not New Zealand is not a state of Australia. We are a seperate country and we both have two seperate systems of Government. We New Zealand OLIVE GROWERS are proud to be seen as seperate from Australia. We grow extra virgin olive oil in healthy young soils with no agrichemicals.Unlike Australia which has very ancient soils we are far far younger.The standards you refer to have been set by the Australian Olive association with help from UC Davis blenders and consultants to the industry. We want NZ labels to list polyphenol levels,tocopherols and pesticide residue levels on all local olive oils and those imported into our country including those from Australia. We are lobbying to include water imprints and Carbon emissions involved in the production of the oil. The Australian olive oil standards are far too low for us.We are happy to at least accept the independence of the IOOC as at least they recognise “Tuscan” style oils as the benchmark of quality and health. If we align ourselves with Australia we will benchmark to a very average Spanish style oil typical of a hot country Supergrove producer. We have quite different climatic conditions and soil types than mainland Australia we produce a Tuscan style oil with a health robust kick in the throat.

    • Thanks for your comment, Phyllis. It sounds like NZ did get lumped in with AU. I like your ideas but NZ accepting IOC (no longer IOOC) as a governing body would actually make you, the grower, subject to losing your livelihood. IOC standards are one thing but joining them doesn’t come with improved or rigorous standards and controls, it comes with you and your fellow growers being subject to trade barriers that favor only some European countries. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. Every country should fight the good fight for superior olive oil standards, but don’t mistake the IOC trade policies as anything other than a European protection racket.

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