The president of the Italian Olive Industry Association (Assitol), Giovanni Zucchi, has called for a new classification of olive oil products across the global industry. The request is born out the fact that extra virgin’s popularity has come at the expense of other potentially useful olive oils, thus harming the overall sector.
There needs to be a fundamental reshaping of the product categories, enabling the whole ‘family’ of olive oil to regain prestige and profitability.
It is Zucchi’s belief that by taking a closer look at the different olive oil categories, their naming and uses, the industry could be revived, resulting in products being better valued and consumers better informed.
“Virgin is practically no longer on the market. The oil is sold less and less,” said Angelo Cremonini, the president of Olitalia, regarding consumers’ preference for extra virgin. “That’s why we believe that there needs to be a fundamental reshaping of the product categories, enabling the whole ‘family’ of olive oil to regain prestige and profitability.”
According to Zucchi, this endeavor would involve combining research with the needs of the market, resulting in recommendations for more diverse uses of olive oil. For example, while extra virgin may be ideal when used raw, such as a dressing, the lower-priced ‘pure’ olive oil could be suitable for cooking and frying, he said.
Zucchi said his objective is to boost the entire industry — one that in Italy and elsewhere across Europe has seen great struggle over the past year.
“Our goal is comprehensive,” Zucchi explained. “We want to create a solid common base on which we can build a balanced system and value for all the products. It is therefore necessary to bring together the entire oil world around the same table with the goal of finding and sharing the right solutions to revive our industry.”
Whether this is just an appeal to the industry to reevaluate messaging, or a move to make more official and specific changes, remains unclear.