Peru defines the quality requirements for table olives

The increase in the production of Peruvian olives from the Tacna and Arequipa regions was one of the factors that drove the growth of the Peruvian agricultural sector last year. Therefore, in order to improve the standards in the value chain of this product, the National Institute of Quality (Inacal), a public body attached to the Ministry of Production, approved the Peruvian Technical Standard (NTP) that establishes the quality requirements for table olives with the aim of promoting their commercialization in national and international markets.

As reported by this organization, this technical standard is applicable to the fruit of the cultivated olive tree that has been properly processed or treated and is offered for trade or direct consumption as table olives in its varieties: criolla or sevillana from Peru, ascolana, gordal, empeltre, leccino, coratina, farga, pendolino and manzanilla, The standard may also be used in olives packaged in bulk containers, intended to be fractionated for direct consumption.

“Peruvian olives are a product with great agro-export potential that is shipped to countries such as Brazil, Chile and the United States. Therefore, it is necessary to improve its production processes to obtain a harmless, safe and export-quality product that contributes to raising the productivity of the mypes that are dedicated to this economic activity in the regions,” said Clara Gálvez, executive president of Inacal.

Table olives are classified into green olives, olives of changing color and black olives. They may be subjected to commercial preparations and/or treatments such as seasoned olives (with alkaline treatment); and natural olives (with brine, where they undergo total or partial fermentation, and preserved with or without acidifiers).

In addition, there are dehydrated and/or wrinkled olives (preserved in brine or partially dehydrated with dry salt, applied with heat or any other technological process). Also in the classification are olives that are blackened by oxidation and specialties (they may be prepared in different or complementary ways to those indicated above). Finally, there are organic olives (all the commercial preparations described but that come from olive groves with organic product certification).

To guarantee the quality of table olives, after their selection and packaging, there will be a check to ascertain their health, cleanliness and possible presence of any defects affecting their consumption. Furthermore, the olives will need adequate conservation and besides, they will have to be without symptoms of ongoing alteration or abnormal fermentation. If calibrated (wholes, stuffed and halves) there will be a need to present the varieties indicated on the label of the container; and these will have to be of uniform color.

As for the recommended ingredients, water, salt (sodium chloride or potassium), vinegar, olive oil and sugars can be present. The Technical Standard also highlights any simple or compound food product used as a filling such as, for example, pepper, onion, almond, celery, anchovy, rocoto (Capsicum), caper, among others. This is in addition to spices and aromatic herbs, prepared natural pastes or extracts.

According to this standard, olives are classified into three commercial categories: Superior Quality, Extra or “A.” This is the maximum degree with the characteristics of the olives’ variety. Under the category, only whole, split, sectioned, boned, sliced and stuffed olives will be exported. The Commercial Quality and First (“I”) or “B” categories classify those fruits of good quality, with an adequate degree of maturity, and can be classified in the above categories and respond to the general conditions defined for the product.

Finally, as for the labeling, it will have to reflect the name of the product (type of preparation and form of presentation).  Caliber (mandatory for whole olives, optional for other presentations) will be another label requirement. The product will also need to have label declaration of the ingredients and additives used in its preparation (in decreasing order), company name, RUC and the manufacturer’s address. In the case of imported products, it will be essential to verify the company name, RUC and the address of the importer, health registration, expiration date, code or lot key, net quantity and special storage conditions, as per the product’s requirements.