EVO (extra virgin olive) oil is one of the most imitated and counterfeit products of the
International and Italian agri-food scene. Unscrupulous producers and retailers sell
counterfeit oil for just a few euros, generating a race to downward prices that confuses consumers and sells a low-quality product derived from various dilutions. Here are some reasons why it is better to be wary of low cost oil!
Large retailers tend to offer a wide offer of low cost extra virgin olive oil. In supermarkets, discount franchising and others, it has become common to find offers of olive oil at shocking prices that do not exceed 3-4 euros per liter. However, after the last olive oil campaign, characterized by low production that saw oil prices per liter soar, finding an extra virgin olive oil for just a few euros raises questions about the quality of that same oil.
The EVO oil: a gustatory postcard of its own
This continuous war on the fall of prices does nothing but belittle an exceptional product like extra virgin olive oil. Placing an extra virgin olive oil for sale at low prices means providing an extra virgin with flat flavors, thus risking to make it the norm for most consumers!
For this reason, as consumers, we can stem the phenomenon by learning to taste oil, in the same way that we do for wine, by identifying all the bitter, spicy and floral notes of a product that presents countless gustatory facets.
In fact, each extra virgin olive oil is the perfect visiting card of the production area . It will provide the tastemaker with a series of aromas and flavors that will identify its place and method of production. Therefore, each oil has its specificity due to the place and the method of production, as well as to the extraction cultivar. Italy, throughout its national territory, can boast the cultivation of over 500 different cultivars (cultivated varieties), each of which is grafted in particular climatic and environmental conditions.
For this reason, the EVO oil from Basilicata will have different flavors from the ones from Tuscany or lake Garda.
Thus, our “Olio dei Sassi” will deliver all the flavors and aromas of the uncontaminated territory of the Matera hills. Coming from typical cultivars of southern Italy and others well grafted into our microclimate, our oil offers a range of flavors that include tomatoes and freshly cut grass and sweet almond and artichoke ones.
The value of this enormous gustatory background is to be added to the great economic value of a kind of food-seasoning that can only be obtained by mechanical procedures that must respect all the qualitative and organoleptic parameters for “cold extraction”.
Low cost EVO oil: this is why it is not EVO
Obviously, all of this has a cost! In fact, it has been estimated that the price of a good Italian extra virgin olive oil, produced in Italy from Italian olives, cannot be less than €7-8 per liter. To this basic price, then also packaging costs are to be added: i.e. cans and dark glass bottles approved to preserve the freshness of the oil and delay the oxidation process.
A production campaign like the previous one, 2018/19, which produced a very low quantity of oil at national level, has generated a further increase in prices that makes the possibility of selling real Italian extra virgin olive oil at 3-4 euro per liter even more inconceivable.
Therefore, all the extra virgin olive oils that we find in supermarkets for a few euros cannot be italian, even though sometimes these are sold as such. In many cases these are nothing but mixtures of different oils: oils of European or extra European origin, oils refined with chemical processes and only a small amount of extra virgin olive oil, equal to 10% of the total, added to confer scents and flavors similar to that of an oil pure extra virgin.
The quality of low cost EVO oil: this is why you should be very wary of it!
The quality of an oil obtained with various mixtures is obviously questionable. Besides the fact that it does not offer all the numerous nutritional qualities of a natural product, it is even harmful to health. It is recent the scandalous news oil sold as Italian and exported to Germany which contained traces of pesticides. The scandal involving even big Italian brands has turned the spotlight on a practice which is also applied to the Italian market.
The ARPAM (Regional Agency for Environmental Protection of the Marche) has in fact found that at least 40-50% of the EVO oil packets sold in low-cost supermarkets contained harmful substances.
Pesticides and anti-parasites were used to prevent insects and flies from affecting olive trees and compromising oil yield. These substances then remained on the surface of the olives and inevitably left traces in the oil. That’s why it is better to be wary of it!
The continuous decline in the prices of extra virgin olive oil is downplaying the economic value of this product which has multiple uses and benefits. Finding a low-cost extra virgin olive oil in supermarkets can lead to confusion regarding the actual differences between an extra virgin olive oil costing €9 and another costing only €2 per liter. This downward war is only causing gradual degradation of quality olive oil, by selling low-quality low-cost products under the name of “extra virgin”.
So….. keep calm and buy from small producers
A first foresight can be to read the label carefully and identify the places of cultivation and production. The recent consumer attention to natural and organic products is promoting a more informed purchase in this regard. Oil traceability is essential to ensure product quality. The lower the places of production, the greater the likelihood of holding pure extra virgin olive oil. Italian production and cold extraction are further criteria to identify a good quality oil.
But buying oil directly from the producers is certainly the main way to be safe from fraud and various counterfeits. A direct relationship with the manufacturer is a great advantage for the consumer who, in this way, can see the various production processes with his own eyes.
Small producers favor quality over quantity. In this way, the consumer can be certain of the major efforts put to produce excellent quality oil. Many companies, like ours, also promote guided tours within the company to promote an informed purchase. In our guided tours, not only do we want to give a glance at production methods, but we also want to emphasize the company’s desire to produce an extra virgin olive oil that meets the criteria of sustainability, genuineness and of course … so much mouth watering aromas.
How do you defend yourself from the risks of counterfeiting low-cost products?
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