California Olive Ranch

The Olive Oil Commission of California has announced new manda­tory label­ing require­ments for large pro­duc­ers in the state, which are meant to bet­ter inform con­sumers about the prove­nance and qual­ity of the olive oils they are pur­chas­ing.

California pro­duc­ers with an out­put of 5,000 gal­lons or more per year will now need to pro­vide “tech­ni­cal evi­dence” in order to sup­port their self-​selected best by date, add stor­age rec­om­men­da­tions to their labels and adhere to stricter require­ments when using phrases such as and sim­i­lar to “Made in California” or “California Olive Oil.”

The more edu­cated peo­ple become, the more they will read the labels. More infor­ma­tion should demand higher prices.- Richard Meisler, co-​owner San Miguel Olive Farm

The OOCC said that pro­duc­ers must use 100-​percent California-​grown olives in their oils in order to use labels that directly state or imply that the olive oil was made or pro­duced in California.

To help dif­fer­en­ti­ate these California-​made oils from com­peti­tors, the OOCC also announced that it has become a mem­ber of the Buy California Marketing Agreement, which will allow pro­duc­ers who adhere to the above cri­te­ria to use the “CA GROWN” logo on their prod­ucts.

See more: California Olive Oil News

“The recent mea­sures adopted by the OOCC are an effort to fur­ther improve con­sumers’ buy­ing expe­ri­ence by pro­vid­ing them with addi­tional infor­ma­tion about their deci­sion to pur­chase California olive oil,” Brady Whitlow, the pres­i­dent of Corto Olive and chair­man of the OOCC, said in a press release.

Richard Meisler, the co-​owner of San Miguel Olive Farm, told Olive Oil Times that he wel­comes most of the changes made by the OOCC and already includes much of the new infor­ma­tion on his labels.

“The more edu­cated peo­ple become, the more they will read the labels,” he said. “More infor­ma­tion should demand higher prices.”

Meisler, who pro­duces extra vir­gin olive oils made entirely from olives grown on his Central Coast estate, added that the new label­ing require­ments regard­ing prove­nance were impor­tant for mar­ket­ing locally-​produced olive oils.

Under the new OOCC require­ments, olive oil labels that men­tion a spe­cific region of California must have 85 per­cent of the olives used to pro­duce the oil grown in that region. Additionally, labels that men­tion a spe­cific estate must have 100 per­cent of their olives grown on that estate and the pro­ducer of the oil must own or con­trol the estate.

“We have Central Coast on our labels,” Meisler said. “Estate will be on my label for this com­ing har­vest.”

The one part of these new stan­dards that Meisler dis­agrees with is that smaller pro­duc­ers do not need to fol­low the same stan­dards.

“[These new require­ments] are geared for the 5,000-gallon or more pro­duc­ers,” he said. “There are many that do not pro­duce this quan­tity. I believe that they too should be under the same guide­lines.”

“[It] may cost a lit­tle more for the pro­ducer, but health­ful prod­ucts are very impor­tant,” Meisler added.

Malcolm Bond, the co-​owner of Bondolio, also agrees with most of the new label­ing rules. He told Olive Oil Times that he expects the new prove­nance rules will help him bet­ter pro­mote his brand.

“I agree, if you are say­ing your oil is ‘California Olive Oil,’ it must con­tain 100 per­cent California olives,” Bond said. “Especially on estate-​grown, I feel it must be 100-​percent estate grown. I do believe it will help our brand.”

However, Bond said that he dis­agrees with the new rules per­tain­ing to adding best-​by dates to the labels. He cited con­fu­sion among fel­low grow­ers about how to deter­mine the best-​by date and said that he prefers to use the har­vest date.

“I am hear­ing some peo­ple are going to use one year from har­vest date and oth­ers are going to use 18 months,” he said. “We have always used on our bot­tles the har­vest date.”

The OOCC said the new require­ments sur­round­ing best-​by dates are meant to bet­ter inform cus­tomers how long an extra vir­gin olive oil main­tains its qual­ity stan­dards when stored prop­erly. According to the com­mis­sion, guid­ance doc­u­ments have been pro­vided to pro­duc­ers to help accu­rately deter­mine the best shelf life.

“The com­mis­sion allows pro­duc­ers to choose a ‘best by’ method to esti­mate shelf life from among sev­eral meth­ods that were peer-​reviewed in the global sci­en­tific lit­er­a­ture,” Dan Flynn, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the UC Davis Olive Center, told Olive Oil Times.

The Olive Center eval­u­ated all the mea­sures that are pro­vided in the guid­ance doc­u­ments for the OOCC in a recent report.

“California’s ‘best by’ assur­ance sets a stan­dard that could become a model inter­na­tion­ally,” Flynn con­cluded.


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