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.