Jaime Lillo, new IOC executive director

The International Olive Council (IOC) kicks off the new year with the arrival of Jaime Lillo López as new Executive Director. Lillo, from Spain, was elected as the new leader of the intergovernmental organisation at the June 2023 meeting and by consensus of the IOC Council of Members.

The agricultural engineer is thoroughly familiar with the organisation, having devoted the last seven and a half years to serving as Deputy Executive Director and overseeing operational activities. During this period, he played an active role in implementing the IOC’s expansion strategy, bringing in new members and getting closer to the main consumer countries of olive oil and table olives that act as observers of the organisation. Lillo has also helped improve the harmonisation of international trade standards for olive oil and olive-pomace oils, supervised a significant increase in IOC recognised sensory analysis laboratories, as well as launched numerous activities relating to the environment, climate change, olive genetic resources and sustainability.

Jaime Lillo is committed to enhancing the IOC’s role as the only intergovernmental organisation in the world bringing together almost all producing and consuming countries of olive oil and table olives. Under his leadership, the IOC is set to boosting the coordination of political activities with its members, in particular regarding sustainability and the olive orchard’s unique contribution to fighting climate change. Over the next few years and under the umbrella of a common agenda and continued dialogue with its member countries, the IOC aims to increase its visibility on the world stage to elaborate on the objectives laid out in the International Agreement on Olive Oil and Table Olives, bolstering the trade standard for these products to facilitate trade flows and decrease barriers, and strengthening technical cooperation as a whole to spread better practices and improve oil quality and consumer knowledge of the endless attributes of the olive tree’s products.

With a degree in agricultural engineering from Madrid’s Polytechnic University and specialised in agricultural economy, the IOC’s new Executive Director has longstanding experience in the sector. Further to his status as official of the Spanish Corps of Agricultural Engineers since 2001 and of the European Commission Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development since 2004, Lillo has held several decisive roles in the Spanish and European agricultural agendas of the last decades. These include, but are not limited to, his role as Deputy Director General for the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, where he coordinated agricultural and rural development policies between the EU and international partners (2007 – 2010). Also noteworthy is his former appointment as chief advisor on agriculture, fisheries and food at the Permanent Representation of Spain to the EU, during which he acted as spokesperson at the Special Committee on Agriculture, directed the ministerial office in Brussels, represented his country vis à vis the EU institutions, took part in negotiations relating to agricultural policy and international trade, and acted as adviser to EU agricultural ministers (2010 – 2016).