March 02, 2004
This year's member meeting was graciously hosted at Atwood Farm in Glen Ellen. The ranch's rustic timber barn sheltered 118 members from blustery Sonoma weather. Outgoing president Albert Katz reviewed the year's accomplishments. He thanked members Golino, Sloan and Evers for their work on the new membership agreement which requires allegiance to a code of ethics. Honest labeling will differentiate California oil from sometimes inaccurately labeled imported oil. Albert outlined a media campaign designed to educate buyers about the COOC seal's guarantee of accurate labeling.
Weeks of late night grant writing by Albert and Patty Darragh secured a USDA development grant. Money from the grant will be used to fund research on consumer preferences. Once a target market is identified a marketing plan will be developed. Grant money will reveal methods of increasing consumer recognition of the COOC seal.
The COOC hired a public relations firm. $20,000 was spent for a six month effort to publicize California oil. An article written for a local media outlet ended up being mentioned in news reports and reported in hundreds of outlets. It is hoped that the services for the publicity firm will be continued this year, money allowing.
Future projects include a tree survey, regional chapter meetings in Mendocino, Butte and Santa Barbara counties.
Upon retiring from the board, Ridgley Evers was awarded the Pioneer award for his more than decade long efforts for the COOC. He was described by co-members as the "conscience of the organization".
Frank Zalom from the Department of Entomology at UC Davis briefly highlighted the presentations made on Olive Day.
Bruce Golino described attempts to change the FDA labeling definitions of olive oil. Changes hinge on the success of an agreement between the olive oil importer organization (NAOOA) and the COOC.
Roberto Zecca thanked the tasting panels for their hard work in evaluating oils submitted for seal certification. Panels met 23 times last year.
During a question and answer period several audience members expressed their frustration with competitors oil which was mislabeled at farmer's markets and supermarkets.