Olive Crazy: All About Olives and Olive Oil
Apr 132012
 

This past Wednesday, Adam Englehardt of California Olive Ranch gave a two-part presentation to members of the Georgia Olive Growers Association, some Florida growers, USDA employees, Congressional staffers, and other involved parties. The first part of the presentation was data to support the proposed marketing order and the second part was a section by section look at the order.

No, I’m not going to divulge any aspects of the actual marketing order. I am honor-bound not to do so and while that doesn’t mean much to some folks, it does to me.

What I am going to do is identify what I have determined is a fly in the ointment of the proposed US olive oil marketing order. The ‘fly’ is small and annoying right now but after feasting on distrust and resulting ill-will has the potential of tanking the marketing order. It makes me wonder – naivete or plan?

Prior to the presentation and meeting on Wednesday I had no opinion about the order. After reading the proposed marketing order and after considering the options and opportunities it presents for the United States olive industry I support the concept. The language is still rough and some crucial pieces are missing.

During Adam’s first presentation, I began to hear the fly. Throughout it the buzzing got louder and finally subsided when he launched into the marketing order section review. Then all of a sudden the buzzing started again and the fly began to furiously circle the room.

So Olive Crazy what does the fly represent? The fly is the niggle in the back of your brain. It is the hair standing up on your arms or the back of your neck. It is the bad omen. It is the sign of danger.

I have had and in some cases still enjoy successful careers in the military, politics, and business. Not only do I make sure I am well-educated in the areas in which I operate; can implement what I know at strategic and tactical levels; but I have great instincts and I trust them. The fly in this article is representing my instinct that some things aren’t adding up and these things, unless resolved now, will cause trouble.

Here are a few of those things:

  1. Spain is the largest exporter of olive oil in the world (not Italy – they’ve got a bottling scheme going on which makes people think they are).
  2. Spain is a charter member of the International Olive Council (IOC) which is controlled by olive oil mega corporations who have been identified as exporters of fake olive oil (seed oils masquerading as olive oil) and/or low-grade olive oil masquerading as extra virgin olive oil.
  3. Spanish investors started California Olive Ranch in the 1990s and still hold the reins.
  4. The California Olive Ranch is carrying the ball for the marketing order.
  5. The California Olive Ranch, with limited input, has created a national olive oil trade association, hired a lobbyist at the federal level, and have already commenced lobbying even though there is no record of lobbyist registration.
  6. A representative from Agromillora, Spain’s largest olive grower, was sitting in the room with us during Adam’s presentation.
  7. Adam Englehardt, who I genuinely like, claims to be politically naive, yet is making politically-sensitive decisions for an entire industry.

There are more items I could add to this list, my intention is not to sabotage the olive oil marketing order process but to alert United States olive oil stakeholders of pending problems, which can be fixed. The marketing order process is 10% business and 90% political. The 90% includes governmental, business, and personality driven politics. Strategic errors are being made which will destroy the best efforts of American olive growers and olive oil producers to enter, in any meaningful way, the global olive oil business, much less combat a cracking, but still powerful, Europe-based world olive oil trade.

If the market order process isn’t done properly the consumers of the world’s largest potential olive oil market, the east coast of the United States, will still have to buy price-altered, fake and low-quality imported olive oil, while US olive oil is relegated to the annals of agriculture as a quaint novelty.

May the sun shine through your branches.

www.olivecrazy.com

  4 Responses to “My Opinion: There’s a ‘Fly’ in the Proposed US Olive Oil Marketing Order”

Comments (4)
  1. The Fly in your ointment is Bactrocera Oleae.As a successful member of the US military Mary you should know Organophosphate insecticides were initially developed for chemical warfare.As US veterans can attest they “may” cause ongoing health problems especially in the area of neurodegenrative disease. Organophosphates used with oil based adjuvants and surfactants may be harmful to health. Oil and oil mix very efficiently that’s just basic science.Organophosphates are designed to be held in fat and nerve tissues disrupting the insect or targets central nervous system Organophosphates in a minimally processed,1x malaxed, non refined and non deodorised oil may be a serious health hazard.But who really knows?And who is really testing? Not the US.Spanish or Australian supergrove sensory experts thats for sure.
    California has the olive fruit fly.It thrives in California.There is no getting away from that fact. Do Californian extra virgin producers respect withholding periods for insecticides? The Spanish don’t always. Why should your producers with so much invested in this “quaintly novel” industry. No truly sustainable Olive farmer trusts USDA GRAS standard for agrochems out here in the real world of horticulture. That is why extra virginity in an oil should be just that.No agrochemical adulteration should be permitted either.
    I am as always astounded at the naivety of the US and Australian industry commentators in thinking that politics, marketing orders and sensory gurus are going to “make” a healthy industry. A healthy plant grows in conditions suited to that particular species. Good research on biological pest control should be where the US Olive industry’s energies are going.Instead you are all naively concentrating on a negatively geared “smear campaign” against imported oils. Whose idea was that and which market research demonstrated it was a good idea? Tom Mueller may have sold a few more books but he studiously and with great diligence ignored the “fly in our ointment”.
    “10% business and 90 % politics” is never a substitute for 100% health or good sustainable growing practices.Those cheap adulterated but likely refined and deodorised oils you refer to may be better for US health than a cold pressed oil infused with malathion/dimethoate or any other deceptively benign “named” insecticides and manganese binding fungicides that olive groves require when sited in the wrong place and forced to produce in large scale growing operations. Do the research if you can find it!

  2. OO Times did make drafts of the Order proper:
    http://static.oliveoiltimes.com/library/marketing-order-draft.pdf

    … and the associated notes on the structure of the support system to be established amongst the industry players:
    http://static.oliveoiltimes.com/library/marketing-order-outline.pdf

    … although these are now somewhat dated. Amongst the things you’ll note are that they are intending to use DAG ratios and PPP, and tighter standards for EVOO than the IOC on a couple of the IOC’s required tests (Table 7, p. 4 of the draft). They’re also going to require a more objective basis for expiry dates than the arbitrary, back-blending-facilitating “two years from bottling” standard that’s currently prevalent.

    Other than the national origin of these investors, do you see any *specific* reasons to worry about undue IOC or “established EU player” influence?

  3. (Sorry if this is a duplicate …)

    OO Times did make drafts of the Order proper:
    http://static.oliveoiltimes.com/library/marketing-order-draft.pdf

    … and the associated notes on the structure of the support system to be established amongst the industry players:
    http://static.oliveoiltimes.com/library/marketing-order-outline.pdf

    … although these are now somewhat dated. Amongst the things you’ll note are that they are intending to use DAG ratios and PPP, and tighter standards for EVOO than the IOC on a couple of the IOC’s required tests (Table 7, p. 4 of the draft). They’re also going to require a more objective basis for expiry dates than the arbitrary, back-blending-facilitating “two years from bottling” standard that’s currently prevalent.

    Other than the national origin of these investors, do you see any *specific* reasons to worry about undue IOC or “established EU player” influence?

  4. The only ‘somewhat dated” testing being used in the bid for a “US trade protectionist” marketing order is that Californian olive producers will continue to overlook the impact of the Olive fruit fly and the sustainability and health of the Extra Virgin oil industry in the US and globally. DAG and PPP are irrelevant from a public health perspective if they are not also used with robust, mandatory,Government enforced pesticide residue testing.
    PPP testing in particular will continue to show public health authorities and nutritionists/dieticians that the healthiest and most enduring oils have high polyphenols. This will disadvantage many hot climate producers who grow low polyphenol oils. It’s only a matter of time before Californian producers wake up and realise PPP testing will disadvantage many of them in an increasingly health conscious market place.What then? More focus on the sensory properties of olive oil and a case being made for “mild,subtle,delicate nuanced oil”.You drive consumers back to butter and canola as quick as a flash with that kind of marketing.
    Unfortunately unrefined natural olive oil is not wine. It is not fermented and does not store as well as most wines.Like all fats Olive oil goes rancid over time and as every smart consumer knows the lower the polyphenols the less healthy the olive oil is.The IOC and EU permit under law health claims to be made for Olive oil polyphenols.That is huge progress for all producers of healthy wholesome extra virgin olive oil. The ‘New World” olive producers should get on with the job of focusing on health and sustainable production,that is where their future truly lies.
    American and Australian olive oil gurus seem far too preoccupied with politics, a distracting case for Italian adulteration,IOC corruption and a very cynical claim for American superiority in food standards, at the expense of real robust standards and good healthy research. They are simply confusing consumers by denigrating olive oil as a whole. What a crazy way to market the healthiest oil in the world. Who’s naive and frankly stupid idea was that? Good science and honest research will ensure you can’t sing from that songsheet for very long.
    With modern laboratory testing most of the ‘somewhat dated” arguments for the superiority of Californian and Australian standards versus the IOC and the EU are built on shifting and very hot and dry sands. When you are battling Bactrocera with organophosphates, and the longterm legacy this will leave adulteration by thermally heated seed oils or hazelnut oils are the least of your worries.

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