On the invitation of the Italian authorities, the International Olive Council (IOC) will hold its 105th session at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome (Italy) from 23 May to 26 September. Italy is one of the founding Members of the IOC and has participated actively in the International Agreements on Olive Oil and Table Olives that have succeeded each other since 1959, and its top experts and researchers in the field of olive growing have collaborated in the various working groups established to monitor the activities of this Organisation since the creation of the IOC.
On the occasion of the 105th regular session of the Council of Members, representatives from Algeria, the European Union (and its Member States), Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, and the signatory countries Argentina, Iran (I.R.), Israel, Lebanon, Montenegro, Turkey and Uruguay, will participate in the meetings of the various specialised committees. Representatives are also expected from Albania, Egypt and Iraq, which are Members under the 2005 Agreement that have not yet completed the procedures for accession to or ratification of the new Agreement.
Representatives of the International Center for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM) and the Japan Oilseed Processors Association (JOPA) will attend this session as observers.
The beginning of the session, which will be presided by Algeria, will follow an opening ceremony attended by a representative of the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies. This ceremony will be followed by a brief intervention by the Chairperson of Pandolea, the Italian association of women olive oil producers.
The first day will be taken up with the proceedings of the Administrative and Financial Affairs Committee.
On Wednesday morning, the Executive Secretariat will inform the Economic and Promotion Committee of the production, consumption and exports trends in recent olive oil and table olive crop years. In addition, producer prices and their influence on international trade will be examined. The Executive Secretariat will also inform Members of its reform proposal for the harmonised system and its study on consumer behaviour, as well as providing a summary of the conclusions of the meeting of the IOC Advisory Committee on Olive Oil and Table Olives, which met on 18 May in Lisbon, at the invitation of the Portuguese authorities.
The new Economic and Promotion Committee will then hear about the promotional activities carried out since the last regular session of the Council of Members and the activities planned for 2017, namely the IOC promotion campaign in Japan, contacts with the Chinese authorities concerning the trade standard, and the grants awarded by the IOC for the celebration of World Olive Day. The Executive Secretariat will likewise inform the Committee of other planned activities, namely the creation of the World Olive Oil Observatory and the project to launch a campaign to promote the consumption of olive oil and table olives in Australia, subject to budgetary availability.
During the meeting of the Technology and Environment Committee, the Executive Secretariat will present the outcomes of the various projects currently underway (demonstration nurseries, international olive germ plasm collections, certification system); the conclusions of the seminar on Xylella fastidiosa organised in Bari in collaboration with the CIHEAM, providing detailed information on the meeting planned for September with the institutions involved in research on this bacterium (ANSES, CSIC, Departments of Entomology of the Universities of Turin and Bari, USDA, CNR, IPPC-FAO, the University of Cordoba and the European Union). This meeting will lay the foundations for the development of a technical guide that will contain the information necessary to prevent, identify, contain and combat Xylella fastidiosa and facilitate the application of all the protocols available to protect the olive tree. The Committee will also be informed of the events in which the IOC Executive Secretariat has participated in recent months, namely the symposium Encontro Ibéerico do Azeite in Portugal; a seminar on olive growing and the environment in Matera (Italy); and the first National Olive Oil Conference of Valpaços in Portugal, at which the Executive Secretariat talked about the carbon footprint of olive oil. Discussions will also centre on the call for tender to select a company to design an action plan to present the positive impact of olive growing on the environment due to its atmospheric CO2 sequestration potential, and the olive plant certification project through the IOC germ plasm bank network (Project True Health Olive Cultivar). The Committee will also be informed of the plan to hold a seminar on global CO2 balance results in olive oil growing and the creation of working groups on the water footprint and the main diseases affecting olive trees.
Lastly, the Executive Secretariat will provide an update on the courses organised by the IOC (doctorates and specialisation courses) as well as the training and technical assistance activities planned in 2017, including a workshop on sensory testing with the aim of harmonising and improving test panels and strengthening legal certainty; and a course for tasting panel leaders to train candidates from countries that do not yet have IOC-recognised sensory testing laboratories. The Executive Secretariat will propose technical assistance activities in member countries for the creation and strengthening of chemical and organoleptic testing laboratories (courses, support for the creation of laboratories, assistance, etc.); the organisation of national seminars on subjects considered to be national priorities (technological transfer activities), sending experts and consultants (technical support) to help countries to diagnose specific problems and determine lines of action for their resolution and any other activity of interest to the sector.
The new Committee on Chemistry and Standardisation will meet to present the activities carried out in this area by the Executive Secretariat since the 104th session of the Council of Members (November 2016), including its participation in the meeting of the Codex Committee on Fats and Oils (February 2017); ring tests for the development of testing methods relating to quality and purity (authenticity) parameters of olive oils and olive-pomace oils, in particular for the determination of stigmastadienes (direct method), peroxides, free acidity, phenolic compounds and purity (global method); the conclusions of the groups of experts on subjects of interest for the sector, namely the harmonisation of tasting panels, volatile compounds; the participation of 103 physico-chemical laboratories and 79 olive oil tasting panels in the ring tests for IOC recognition for 2017/18; the organisation of the 17th IOC Mario Solinas Quality Award, with the participation of 149 producers and the institutional patronage of national competitions organised by the competent authorities of Turkey and Portugal. The Executive Secretariat will also propose further activities for the remainder of 2017: the organisation of further ring tests, the continuation of studies on COI referenced testing methods and other ongoing studies; the recognition of laboratories and panels, the organisation of a new test for the determination of pesticides, the harmonisation of IOC and Codex standards, the preparation of the next meeting of the CCFO and the study on contaminants which will be included on the agenda of the autumn meeting of chemists. The programme for the quality control of olive oils and olive pomace oils sold on import markets (Australia, Canada, Brazil, Japan and the United States) will also be continued.
The Administrative and Financial Affairs Committee will meet again on Thursday, 25 May, to continue its examination of matters concerning the IOC budget, member country contributions, proposed amendments to administrative procedures, among others.
The official opening ceremony of the plenary session will be held at 15.00 hours with the participation of the Italian Minister of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, Maurizio Martina, and the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, José Graziano Da Silva.
The plenary session will continue into the next day. The Executive Director will present the 2016 activity report of the IOC and the chairpersons of each Committee – including the IOC Advisory Committee on Olive Oil and Table Olives – will present the outcomes of their discussions.
Madrid, 19 May 2017