30 May

No recession for Olive Oil in UK

Britons with a taste for Mediterranean-style cooking are spending record amounts on olive oil.

Sales have topped £150million a year for the first time. That is double the amount sold eight years ago and significantly more than the £90million spent on vegetable oil.

Growing evidence of the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet is behind the trend. Experts say olive oil is low in harmful saturated fat and can protect against heart attacks, strokes and cancer.

Half of UK homes now use olive oil compared with just 35 per cent in 2001, data from market analysts Nielsen shows.

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29 May

Canada: Olive oil imports were half sunflower

A Toronto-area food importer and distributor has been fined for importing an olive/sunflower oil blend labelled as “extra virgin olive oil” in 2006.

Jan K. Overweel Ltd., which markets the Emma, Casa Italia and Cortina Foods brands and other imported products, was convicted in Toronto in February under the federal Food and Drugs Act, with the Ontario Court of Justice imposing a $40,000 fine plus the forfeit and disposal of over 27,000 litres of seized oil.

The imports in question, which took place between January and May 2006, were found to contain about 50 per cent sunflower oil and “did not meet the prescribed standard for olive oil,” the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said in a release Wednesday.

Federal food regulations require, among other things, that olive oil “shall be the oil obtained from the fruit of the olive tree,” CFIA said.

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29 May

Australia and US try to change olive oil standards

The Australian olive oil industry is teaming up with the United States to develop a new set of international olive oil standards.

Dr Rodney Mailer, from the Australian Oils Research Laboratory, says the European International Olive Council’s standards are too restrictive and treat unique aspects of Australian oils as negative traits.

He says Australian producers shouldn’t be disadvantaged, because their olive oil is different to European oils.

“One of the sterols in olive oil, campesterol, is a little bit higher [in Australian oils],” he says.

“This doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with the oil.

“The varieties we have here just have a bit more than what the [current] standards say they should have.

“In fact, I think it’s a good thing, because it’s a nutritional benefit but we have some trouble trying to export to Europe because of these standards.”

[Source] Click here

27 May

European Union set to support olive oil sector with storage aid

By Jeremy Smith & Anthony Barker,

European Union regulators suggested granting olive oil producers subsidies for private storage from as early as June as a way to prevent more price falls, the European Commission said on Monday.

The Commission’s proposal, to be discussed soon by national experts from the EU’s 27 countries, would allow subsidised storage of virgin and virgin olive oils for 180 days, up to a maximum quantity of 110,000 tons if the experts agree.

Subsidised storage is a preferred EU way of giving income to farmers when internal prices for a commodity fall below a pre-determined trigger, so they can avoid selling at a loss.

The commodity is “bought in” to stores, either private or public, until prices rise again to a level attractive enough for it to be sold back into the EU internal market.

“Olive oil prices have been consistently decreasing in the EU since the start of the 2008/09 marketing year,” the Commission said in a statement.

“Given the present market conditions, a maximum quantity of 110,000 tonnes seems adequate to help rebalance the olive oil market,” it said.

The EU is the world’s leading producer of olive oil, with around 80 percent of output and 70 percent of consumption. Spain is the top producer worldwide, followed by Italy and Greece.

On several major representative markets in recent weeks, olive oil prices, specifically for extra virgin and virgin qualities, have remained under the EU trigger levels used for private storage: 1,779 euros ($2,490) a tonne for extra virgin olive oil and 1,710 euros for virgin olive oil.

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25 May

For the love of olives in Texas

By Beverly Burmeier,

Poor soil, high temperatures, and low water levels are all plentiful in central Texas. Not the usual growing conditions for a food crop, this combination just happens to be perfect for olive trees. So Jack Dougherty, former president of a computer company, bought a ranch near Wimberley and became the first person to grow olives in Texas.

olives-grower-in-texasSince he grew up among Italian farmers in California, Dougherty’s Bella Vista Ranch follows the classic format of Italian agriculture with which he was familiar.

The working cattle ranch includes an olive orchard in the front 20 acres, specialty fruit trees, and producing vegetable and herb gardens.

Dougherty takes pride in his success with items not generally grown in central Texas: almonds, cherries, apricots, apples, asparagus, artichokes, arugula, oriental persimmons, and table grapes. Each spring the ranch’s 1000 plus blackberry bushes become prime territory for pick-it-yourself visitors—followed by red raspberries from June until October.

But his specialty is producing olives. With more than 800 olive trees representing seven different varieties, the ranch produces and bottles fresh pressed olive oil– the first commercial venture of this kind in Texas. It’s not unusual for hundreds of people to visit Bella Vista ranch in a day, with the numbers swelling during berry-picking season.

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