« AnteriorContinuar »
PARAGRAPH 38-OLIVE OIL.
STATEMENT OF Ĉ. A. MARIANI, REPRESENTING THE E. MARIANI
CO., NEW YORK CITY.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Mariana, I understand, wants to appear before the committee. Give your name, Mr. Mariana, to the stenographer.
Mr. MARIANI. C. A. Mariana, of the E. Mariana Co., 29 Broadway, New York City.
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of this honorable committee, I want to thank you for this opportunity given me, especially as this brief that I am reading from was published as a part of yesterday's proceedings. I had a special motive, however, in asking the privilege of speaking before you, and that was to advise you that I could not appear before your committee as a special representative of the Italian Chamber of Commerce (as I had previously advised the members of your committee I would), because they have presented their brief direct, and because, as a result of conversation with certain official gentlemen in Washington, I was advised that I could not appear as their representative officially anyway, as they were subsidized by the Italian Government. I therefore had to present a new brief myself under my own name in order to properly get before your committee.
I want this committee to know I regard this brief as not my own personal views, and that is why I asked to come before you this afternoon. If it represented my own personal views, as I start off in my brief, I state that I am in favor of olive oil being absolutely free for the very obvious reasons which I cover in my brief. But I wanted this committee to know that this brief that I have presented represents the opinions of practically half the importation of Italian olive oil as a result of testimony that I had taken as chairman of that committee in the last three weeks. That is one point.
Another point I wanted this committee to know, which certainly is important, is that I made a statement in my brief that one clause of the last bill that was passed was vicious. I did not mean that in a personal way. That is, I meant by that it would result viciously for the Government. That to which I had reference was the ad valorem clause in connection with the duty on olive oil. I say in
my brief, and I think I can be borne out in my statement, that there are very few, if any, experts in the United States at the present time capable of deciding on the quality of olive oil. The subject of the quality of olive oil is one of the few features of olive oil that has not been given consideration by the Federal Government. For your information in to-day's market in France, Italy, and Spain, between the first and last grade of olive oil, there is a difference of some 51 cents a gallon in the price there.
I contend, as I have expressed in my brief, as the result of consultations I have had with others that a separate, specific duty on oil containers, whether they be half-pint bottles or 5 or 50 gallon barrels, will result in the Government obtaining one principal feature that they are trying to obtain, outside of the revenue end, and that is to get to the consumer the best product obtainable at the least possible cost. A specific duty of 25 per cent will encourage the exportation to the United States of a higher grade of olive oil.
PARAGRAPH 38-OLIVE OIL.
Mr. LONGWORTH. You mean 25 cents ?
Mr. MARIANI. I meant 25 cents per gallon; thank you. I want to state for the benefit of this committee that with a normal crop in Europe of olive oil, with a specific duty of 25 cents a gallon, it will be retailed at $2 or $2.10 per gallon, which will bring it in its smaller containers within the reach of the entire public.
There are two other features in my brief to which I want quickly to call your attention, and I know you have to get away. One is the labeling of the country of origin on the package be made a part of the law. That is a protection to the purchaser. It has been customary in the past by usage, which is the rule, to label the name of a city and call the brand after the name of that city. But it has fallen into such usage that other cities ship oil to that city and then reship it to this and other countries, carrying the name of the city, which is false. For instance, I have in my mind Nice, Bordeaux, and Lucca. As a matter of fact there is not enough Lucca olive oil produced in the Province of Lucca to take care of the people of that Province. And I dare say there is not a gentleman on this committee who, if he asked his wife what brand of olive oil she used, she would say “Lucca olive oil," when as a matter of fact there is not one in a hundred that is using it.
I therefore ask, as a protection to the housewife, the one who is most affected by this olive-oil proposition, especially as it is becoming so important from a medicinal standpoint, that the labeling of the country of origin—“Made in Italy," "Absolutely pure olive oil made in Italy," "Absolutely pure olive oil made in France," be made a part of the act, compelling them to carry the same on the original container.
The last feature that I bring to your attention, and it is very important, especially for the consumer-and many of these features will harass the houses on the other side, and therefore I am working for the consumer alone in this contention-is the fact that by usage, especially in Italy, which I will take for a basis, it has been customary to quote prices in lires for a case of 12 so-called gallons or 24 so-called half gallons, or 48 so-called quart tins. As those packages have become a sort of universal thing, the unscrupulous buyer in this country to-day imports those 12 tins with 32 kilos to the case. As a matter of fact, if they were full gallon, half gallon, or quart they would be pretty near 41 kilos to the case, which means that the unscrupulous buyer of olive oil on to-day's market has 13 cents leeway by importing short of measure more than he would have if he was compelled by law to mark the absolute contents on the package, on the box, or container. I do not contend that a short container should not be brought into this country, but I do contend that in the interest of fair competition and in the interest of the retail buyer, that container should have marked on it what it contains, absolutely.
First. That will assist the appraisers of the port in appraising the duty, especially if it is a specific duty.
Second. It will encourage healthy competition.
PARAGRAPH 38-OLIVE OIL.
Third. It will give the consumer to-day one-tenth more olive oil than he has been in the habit of getting from certain houses.
I thank you very much.
Mr. PALMER. You say you represent the Italian Chamber of Commerce?
Mr. MARIANI. I say I can not officially represent them.
Mr. PALMER. I understood you to say that was an institution subsidized by the Italian Government?
Mr. MARIANI. Yes.
Mr. MARIANI. In all foreign countries practically the chambers of commerce of those countries receive a revenue from the Government for the maintenance of commerce between the two countries.
Mr. PALMER. The Italian Government maintains the institution in New York ?
Mr. MARIANI. To an extent only, and therefore I was advised I could not appear officially before the committee as a representative of the Italian Chamber of Commerce; first, for the above reason, and second, because their board of directors did not formally pass a resolution authorizing me to appear before this committee, which is the reason that I am presenting my personal brief, which I wanted this committee to know is not my personal brief as far as my personal ideas are concerned, but is the result of the testimony that I have taken in the last three weeks, and that is why I am here this afternoon to make this statement.
The witness filed the following communication, respecting olive oils, with the committee: Hon. OSCAR W. UNDERWOOD,
Chairman Committee on Ways and Means, Washington, D. C. HONORABLE Sır: In appealing to your committee for your consideration of the following views suggestive of what principal features pertaining to olive oils imported from foreign countries, should have the consideration of your honorable committee, I beg to advise that in filing with your committee the following enumerated facts, I have not taken a decision as chairman of the tariff committee of the Italian Chamber of Commerce, whose memorial has been submitted to your committee, neither have I taken alone my personal views and wishes on this very important subject, but I have endeavored in colaborating the following data to keep foremost in my mind the interests of the five potent factors that are directly affected by any legislation affecting the tariff on olive oils. These five factors considered are as follows:
First and foremost, the Government and its necessity to raise revenue;
Fourth, the importer, who gains his livelihood by bringing olive oils into this country; and
Fifth, the exporter, who looks to this country for a market for his products.
Had Í appealed to your committee from my own viewpoint, my brief would contain but five words, namely: "Olive oils should be free." But rather I have endeavored to bring to your committee suggestions that in my opinion would benefit the greatest number of the American public.
From 20 to 25 years ago either the importation of olive oils or the production of olive oils in this country was a very small and insignificant item. As a matter of fact, as late as 1902 the importations of edible olive oils totaled only a little over 700,000 gallons from all countries, and in 1911 these figures were increased to nearly 4,500,000 gallons. The consumption of foreign olive oils and of olive oil in general must steadily increase, especially if the same (imported olive oils) are placed within the reach of the average consumer. In 1911, when the consumption of foreign olive oils reached nearly 4,500,000 gallons, the prices in foreign countries were very high for two reasons:
PARAGRAPH 38-OLIVE OIL.
First, the increased demand in North and South America; and, second, the exceptionally small crop produced, owing to adverse agricultural conditions.
This enormous total at the high prices existing in 1911 was reached notwithstanding the fact that this product is produced in California, and it might be well for your committee to recognize the fact, in listening to this application for a reduction in the tariff, that despite the adverse conditions in 1911 California was unable to compete with foreign olive oils in either price or quality, even when the price of foreign olive oils was so high, and it might be well for your committee to consider the fact that in 1911 more foreign olive oils were consumed in California than California olive oils, the reason for this being that the olive-oil industry in California is at the present time in its infancy. It has had a varied career. The planting of olive trees has taken place in sections where the climatic conditions were unsuited to the proper production of olive oil, and it is a matter of history that in many places the planting of olives has been suspended and olive trees previously planted have had to be rooted out.
Your committee should also consider the fact that California is said to have produced less than 1,000,000 gallons of olive oil in 1911, which can be seen by your committee to be nowhere enough to take care of the local demands. Your committee should also consider the fact that in listening to this application for a reduction in the tariff on olive oil, they must remember that this reduction asked is not for all time, and should labor and local conditions in California warrant a further consideration of your committee in the future, that the same can be taken into consideration at that time, as we must bear in mind that no tariff bill that is practical to-day that is passed by Congress will be practical in its entirety 5 or 10 years from now, owing to the changed conditions that must exist both in this and other countries 5 or 10 years from now.
My understanding of the present revision of the tariff is that it is to get to the consumer especially necessities of life if possible at a lower initial cost to them. In instances where the local product is not jeopardized and as it is impossible for California to produce olive oils at the present time in competition with foreign olive oil in price, notwithstanding the present high duty, then it is the duty of the Government to take in hand the interests of the consumers and reduce the duty, therefore the cost to the consumer.
I would recommend a straight specific duty on olive oil, no matter what the size of its container may be, at 25 cents a gallon. And if this recommendation is accepted by your honorable committee you will find that it will result in an increased revenue for the Government. I say this advisedly and I am in a position to show my books for the last 10 years, which will prove to your committee that a difference of 25 cents in the price of imported olive oil has in the past affected my annual output more than 100 per cent one way or another. As an illustration of this, owing to the very bad condition of the present crop in Italy, the price this year, in December, ranges from 30 to 40 cents a gallon higher than in December, 1911, and my sales for this December are at least one-sixth of what they were for last December. I therefore contend that on the subject of olive oils that not only the consumer but the Government itself will be the gainer by a reduction in the tariff. There is another and very strong and commendable reason why the tariff on olive oil should be reduced. Your committee should take into consideration that every day the physicians of this country are prescribing olive oils for medicinal purposes and, strange as it may seem, the ordinary working man, per capita, shows a greater percentage in the population in general to whom advice is being given by physicians to use olive oil for medicinal purposes and this is the man who finds olive oil outside of his financial reach to-day and can not follow the advice of his physician to use olive oil after his ailment is remedied (for culinary purposes) because he can not afford the same. It might be well for your committee to consider that even though a self-sustaining nation, we are still young in years, and there are still left many things that we can learn from the mother countries from which our ancestors came, and principal and foremost above all items of instructions that we should heed from the mother countries is “to learn how to eat." In this respect, through the influence of our immigrant class, we are rapidly learning the importance of the daily use of olive oil as a necessary food product and were its use made possible by the reduction we seek, your honorable body will very soon learn two things: First, that this industry is in its infancy, partially owing to its present high cost
, and secondly, that there is one item in the tariff bill whereby the revenue of the Government can be greatly increased by a reduction in the tariff.
I ask for a universal specific duty on all containers of 25 cents per gallon, because the recent bill passed and vetoed contained, under the item of olive oil, a vicious feature, inasmuch as it prescribed an ad valorem duty of 20 per cent on all containers
PARAGRAPH 38-OLIVE OIL.
over 5 gallons. I say that this feature is vicious advisedly. In the first place there are very few, if any, experts in the employ of the Government who could absolutely determine the cost of olive oil; there are so many grades that an ad valorem duty would subject the Government to continual fraud. Consular invoices abroad would contain misstatements, and the cost to the Government for procuring experts to ascertain on every individual importation information as to whether the consular invoice has properly stated the value of the product or not would greatly jeopardize the revenue thus received. This proposed ad valorem duty would further open up illegitimate competition, inasmuch as the unscrupulous would endeavor to make misstatements on their consular invoices. This is a very important factor for your committee to consider, especially when you consider the fact that between the highest and lowest grades of olive oil in Italy and France there is a difference in the foreign cost of approximately 50 cents a gallon.
Another reason why I ask for a specific duty-this duty being the same (25 cents a gallon) on all containers--is because at the present time, under the present tariff bill, where the duty on small containers is 50 cents and on large containers 40 cents, a channel for illegitimate competition is opened up. The small dealer who has a relative abroad, with a small farm, and the chances are experienced in producing the oil from the olives, is enabled by the difference of 10 cents a gallon to import small quantities of oilve oil in bulk of questionable grade and deal the same out to his local friends as the finest product obtainable, being satisfied with little or no profit except the glory of delivering olive oil from his own relatives to his friends, which, as above stated, is as a rule of inferior quality, and this in competition with the legitimate importer, with enormous capital at stake. On the other hand, if your honorable committee will make a universal specific duty of 25 cents per gallon, it will be to the general benefit of the public at large, inasmuch as it will be a bar to the importation of the cheaper grades of olive oil for edible purposes, as these oils are only used in the foreign countries for blending purposes, but at the present time under the present duty are imported into this country in bulk and are used in their original form and also for blending with cottonseed or compound oil, and when used in their original form invariably hinder the progress of the industry, inasmuch as they are what we term olio grasso, or greasy oil, which physicians declare is unfit for medicinal use, inasmuch as the greasy oil is nauseating to the sick stomach.
I would further ask your committee to do away with the present ad valorem duty on glass containers or jugs, which are at present subjected to an ad valorem duty, but which I claim should be exempted from any duty when said containers, bottles, or jugs bear the brand or mark of the manufacturer in such manner that it can not be removed without destroying the containers, thus rendering such containers unfit for further commercial use.
This last request will result in the public becoming acquainted with specific brands and will greatly encourage the use of the better grade of olive oils, inasmuch as all containers coming into this country under the pure-food regulations must have a complete statement in English on them stating exactly what they contain, and inasmuch as this is practically a Government guaranty that the statement contained on the container is authentic.
While your honorable body is revising this item of Schedule A, I believe it would be practical and I know that it would be to the general benefit, especially of our English-speaking public, were you to decide on an item regarding the proper labels of olive oils imported into this country. Practically the first olive oil imported from Italy came from the city of Lucca, and at that time the demand for olive oil was limited and the other Provinces of Italy producing oil did not enter into exportation of this product to the United States. The same thing is true of Nice and Bordeaux, in France, which resulted in the retail merchant only knowing oil produced in these places and as the demand increased the supply very soon became exhausted and the dealers in these places found it necessary, as they do to-day, to buy the largest percentage of their olive oil for exportation purposes from other Provinces, both in Italy and France and other countries, where they have gone in for the exportation of olive oil. In many and in nearly all instances the oil from these various Provinces became so popular in the public mind in this country and South America that the trade on the oils irom these special Provinces became practically the only ones that were marketable. This resulted in a demand, as above stated, many times larger than the output and further resulted in capital being brought from other Provinces to take care of the olive oil produced in their own Provinces at the popular point of exportation, as it was not possible for them to export from their own Provinces for the above
For illustration, olive-oil houses in the Rivieras of Genoa opened up