Are Spanish olive producers playing dirty on trade? Trump administration investigates

By Jackie Wattles
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The Trump administration is taking its fight for American trade to the market for Spanish olives.

commodity trading 2The U.S. Department of Commerce said Thursday that it’s launching investigations into whether Spanish olive producers are violating fair trade laws. Investigators are concerned that the foreign producers are “dumping” olives into the U.S. — meaning Spanish olives are selling in the United States for less than they would sell for in Spain. That goes against laws that seek to protect American producers from being unfairly undercut by outside competition. It’s not a big market: About $70.9 million worth of Spanish olives were imported to the United States last year, according to the Commerce Department. Officials are working to determine whether olive dumping is taking place, and whether “olive producers in Spain are receiving alleged unfair subsidies,” the department said.
According to Commerce, the petitioner is the Coalition for Fair Trade in Ripe Olives, whose members are Bell-Carter Foods and Musco Family Olive Co. Bell-Carter CEO Tim Carter said in a June press release that “dumped and subsidized Spanish ripe olives are severely impacting” his business. He added that when the American olive industry was at its peak, there were 20 olive processors and 1,100 growers, but today there’s only two processors and 890 growers. Felix Musco, CEO of Musco Family Olive Co., has called the olive industry’s decline “painful.” “Our ripe olive industry takes great pride in the industry it created, the high quality of its product, and the thousands of workers and families the industry supports. Without import relief, all of this is at risk,” he said in a June statement. If wrongdoing is found, and if the International Trade Commission determines that U.S. producers were harmed, the Commerce Department promised it “will act swiftly to halt any unfair trade practices,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement. Specifically, the U.S. government plans to impose taxes on Spanish olive imports “in the amount of dumping and/or unfair subsidization found to exist.” Bell-Carter and Musco have suggested those tariffs should be between 78% and a whopping 223%. The Commerce Department said it plans to have the first round of preliminary investigation results by later this year. commodity trading 1The move marks the 51st fair trade investigation that the administration has launched since President Trump took office in January, the Commerce Department said. One of those probes seeks to uncover illegal steel trading. Trump doubled down Thursday on his threats to slap a hefty tariff on steel, citing “dumping” concerns. As Trump steps up his tough actions to protect U.S. producers, some economists and business people are worried about possible retaliation from other countries. A report earlier this month by the Centre for Economic Policy Research, which is based in London, suggested that America’s biggest trade partners have taken far fewer protectionist measures against U.S. business so far this year.

–CNNMoney’s Ivana Kottasová and Patrick Gillespie contributed to this report

TM & © 2017 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

(Source: http://www.wnem.com)

Olive oil about to get a lot more expensive

NEW YORK, Dec 7 — New research from Harvard University suggests it could put years on your life.

But a Mediterranean diet rich in pungent olive oil does not come cheap, and it is just about to get a lot more expensive. Disastrous olive harvests in much of southern Europe have sent wholesale prices shooting up, meaning consumers around the world are going to have to get used to paying substantially more for a culinary staple prized equally by gourmets and physicians. Nowhere has the impact of freakish summer weather been felt more painfully than in Tuscany and Umbria, where the subtly aromatic, extra-virgin oils reaped from timeless landscapes provide the industry’s global benchmark for quality. In Spain, which last year accounted for half the world’s production of all grades of olive oil, a toxic cocktail of scorching temperatures, drought and bacteria is expected to halve output this year.

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A silent press

A different bacteria threatens to decimate olive groves in southern Italy. In the heartland of poshly-packaged oils that connoisseurs discuss like fine wines, it was a humble fly that wreaked havoc after being handed optimal breeding conditions by the erratic climate. At Fiesole, in the heart of Tuscany’s “Chiantishire”—so called because of its rich British ex-patriots—Cesare Buonamici’s olive processing facilities should be whirring at full capacity. Instead, thanks to the olive fly, the sophisticated presses and extraction machines lie dormant for lack of the organically-cultivated fruit that would normally keep them busy until nearly Christmas. “Our production has been halved,” the former engineer says gloomily. Figures from the International Olive Council suggest wholesale prices of Italian oil have risen 37 per cent from 2013, but Buonamici warns the rise for top quality oils like his will be steeper. “Those are the prices ex-press,” he told AFPTV. “For the final consumer the increase is likely to be more than 60 per cent.”

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Is gourmet food worth the extra dollar?

By Holly Dove

Our taste team finds some nice surprises in a gourmet versus budget food test

When it comes to “party” food, such as salami or olives, many might like to pay the extra few dollars to get added flavour and better quality. But when it comes to the bare essentials, budget food such as milk might taste just as good, if not better, than its gourmet rival. This week the Weekend Herald put gourmet food to the test against budget counterparts as a group of discerning food-lovers – including a Ponsonby chef – took part in a blind tasting. The seven-strong team tried a combination of essential foods and “party” foods – milk, olives, cheese, chips, salami, bananas and peanut butter. Comparing budget, mid-range and high-end foods the tasters sampled food from each category while blindfolded.

Without the packaging and brand-name hype, they were able to judge food based solely on taste – with no distractions.

The winners

Mainland Tasty Cheese, valued at $7.70 for 250g

Mid-range price.

“More crumbly [than the other contestants] and lots of flavour”, according to Herald’s Bite food editor Jo Elwin.

Ponsonby chef Dean agreed with the top spot, grading it a four out of five and describing it as “vintagey”.

Waitrose Halkidiki

olives valued at $8.99 for 300g.

High-end price.

A unanimous winner here, the Waitrose olives were described by tasters as big, juicy and full of flavour. “Succulent and herby”, said Dean, while fellow taster Lizzie Sullivan said they were “delicious and flavourful.”

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64% decline in olives production in Latakia, Syria

latakiaLattakia – Director of Agriculture Directorate in the coastal province of Lattakia, Munzir Kheir Beik, estimated the olive production expected for the current season at 63,000 tons, compared to 173,000 tons last season.
He attributed the decline in production to the rains and high humidity that prevailed in the period of efflorescence.
Kheir Beik pointed out that the area of land planted with olive trees is 49,848 hectares, while 178,072 olive plants were produced this season, with an increase of 2000 plants according to the plant production plan.

© SANA (Syria Arab News Agency) 2013

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