Spain Sets Up Watchdog to Target ‘Strategic’ Food Industries

Spain, the largest maker of olive oil, set up a watchdog for “strategic” food industries to bring transparency to agricultural markets and help probe wrongdoings.

Olives, olive oil and milk are among the products initially monitored under a law published today in the Official Bulletin. The Agriculture Ministry will fund the agency to enforce rules on production and ensure the “truth and integrity” of data on the origin, destination and characteristics of raw materials.

The regulator will have a role in investigating breaches and issuing penalties, according to the law, which establishes the statutes for the Food Information & Control Agency.

Spain’s olive-oil output in the first half of the 2013-2014 season from October rose to 1.75 million metric tons, almost triple the 608,900 tons in the same period a year earlier, the ministry said today. About 30 percent of output was exported.

The commodity used in everything from salads to skin care has traditionally been dominated by Mediterranean growers. With rising competition from Argentina and Chile and upstart groves in California, China and Australia, some in the market have sought more price and data transparency from major producers.

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