U.S. International Trade Commission Issues Report Highlighting the Challenges Facing Both Domestic Olive Oil Producers and American Consumers
The US International Trade Commission (USITC) has issued a report following a thorough investigation that brings to light the challenges faced by the U.S. olive oil industry and specifically, artisan producers. The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) recent report on competition between U.S. and foreign olive oil producers and importers highlights the extensive challenges faced by American olive oil producers and consumers alike. The USITC investigation found that the international standards for determining the grade of an olive oil, which are set by the International Olive Council, are widely unenforced and allow a wide range of olive oil qualities to be marketed as extra virgin. These unenforced standards lead to widespread adulterated and mislabeled product, weakening the competitiveness of high-quality U.S.-produced olive oil in the U.S. market. The report, Olive Oil: Conditions of Competition between U.S. and Major Foreign Supplier Industries, can be viewed in its entirety here.
In revealing the obstacles faced by high-quality producers, the report also indicates that U.S. consumers are being misled by inaccurate labeling of widely available imported olive oil. Ruth Mercurio, Managing Partner of We Olive states: “The importance of the retailer as educator is very apparent in the recently released USITC report. Most consumers are, unwittingly, consuming olive oil that is not what it claims to be.”
This report also underscores two things that the consumer can do to ensure they are receiving extra virgin olive oil:
1) Purchase from a trusted source, where the consumer can not only taste the product, but also learn about the products origins. Generally, the traditional grocery store is not the place to find high quality, extra virgin olive oil. Consumers should search out specialty food providers, such as We Olive stores.
2) Look for the California Olive Oil Council certification seal. This seal tells a consumer that the oil inside that bottle has been lab and taste panel tested to meet the high standards of the COOC for extra virgin olive oil.“
Mercurio also states: “As a retailer, We Olive stores rely on that seal as a guarantee that what is inside is extra virgin olive oil. In our stores, we only carry oils that have the COOC seal of certification. That reliance on the COOC seal, along with our knowledgeable staff, is how a consumer can ensure that they are receiving high quality, extra virgin olive oil in our We Olive stores.”