Report on Italian Olive Oil and the World Consumer

The first report on Italian extra virgin olive oil and the world consumer has been released by Extract, the observatory set up by Unaprol and Ixè

Apr. 1, 2016
By Ylenia Granitto

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The first report on the Italian extra vir­gin olive oil and the world con­sumer has been released by Extract, the obser­va­tory set up by Unaprol, the largest orga­ni­za­tion of Italian olive oil pro­duc­ers, and the research insti­tute Ixè.

The first of its kind research gives an idea of per­cep­tions and expec­ta­tions and habits of con­sumers in the world with regard to Italian extra vir­gin olive oil, and is based on a series of 1,214 inter­views con­ducted with inter­na­tional atten­dees of the Universal Exhibition Expo 2015 in Milan, from 3 to 8 October, 2015.

The report finally traces the world con­sumer pro­file about the knowl­edge of the prod­uct,” said the pres­i­dent of Unaprol, David Granieri. Now we make avail­able this sur­vey to the insti­tu­tions in order to improve the inter­ven­tion poli­cies in the sector.”

According to the report, 86 per­cent of those sur­veyed know, or at least have heard of, extra vir­gin olive oil, with the United States at the top of the list with 98 per­cent aware­ness, while the lower per­cent­age is reg­is­tered in Asia (76 per­cent), in par­tic­u­lar in China. With regard to pro­duc­ing coun­tries, 72 per­cent of con­sumers know that Italy is a pro­ducer of extra vir­gin olive oil. Awareness in America and Europe (with the excep­tion of the UK) is very high. New Zealand and Australia show a less-than-aver­age level of recog­ni­tion. The area with the low­est per­cent­age is Asia again, espe­cially China.

A good half of con­sumers are aware that the Italy has dif­fer­ent areas of pro­duc­tion and, among local pro­duc­tions, Southern Italy is the best-known: The European (87 per­cent in Austria) and American (70 per­cent in the U.S.) mar­kets are informed about the pro­duc­tion in the three macro-areas, while few peo­ple in Asia know about pro­duc­tion in Northern Italy.

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Regarding the rep­u­ta­tion of olive oil pro­duc­ing coun­tries, Italy ranks first in the global mar­ket, fol­lowed by Spain, Greece and Portugal, while in Europe, Spain is the most renowned coun­try for pro­duc­tion. In Asia, Spain ranks first again but peo­ple have a lower per­cep­tion of pro­duc­ing coun­tries: 33 per­cent of those ques­tioned do not know which coun­tries pro­duce olive oil. In the Americas, Spanish pro­duc­tion is well known, fol­lowed at a dis­tance by Greece and Portugal.

Concerning con­sump­tion, fre­quent users of Italian extra vir­gin olive oil are 37 per­cent of those sur­veyed while the remain­ing 63 per­cent say to use EVOO rarely or never. The higher per­cent­ages of Italian extra vir­gin olive oil con­sumers are reg­is­tered in Europe (par­tic­u­larly France, Austria, and Russia), U.S. and Central and South America. This num­ber could rise very rapidly as the aver­age propen­sity to buy Italian EVOO regards the 75 per­cent of con­sumers, with peaks in Europe and the Americas: the absolute major­ity of them believe that price is not or would not be an issue at the time of pur­chase, pro­vided that they can have the best quality.

EVOO in the world is mainly used for sea­son­ing, espe­cially veg­eta­bles (87 per­cent), then meat, fish and pasta (67 per­cent) when a lit­tle over 40 per­cent of con­sumers use it for cook­ing and fry­ing, and a slightly lower per­cent­age uses it as an ingre­di­ent for cakes and bread (17 percent).

About 20 per­cent of con­sumers buy EVOO for aes­thetic and cura­tive pur­poses: in par­tic­u­lar, in Asia it is used with these moti­va­tions and as an ingre­di­ent more than in other coun­tries, but less for cook­ing and fry­ing, and as a condi­ment. Among Europeans, the France use it for beauty more than the oth­ers, while in UK, Netherlands and Eastern Europe it is more widely used in recipes of cakes, cook­ies, and bread.

55 per­cent of buy­ers in the world read the label when they buy a bot­tle of liq­uid gold. 38 per­cent con­fess to read­ing it occa­sion­ally while only 7 per­cent never read it. The United States is the coun­try where the infor­ma­tion on the bot­tles are more care­fully con­sulted, fol­lowed by 60 per­cent of European con­sumers. In Asia, Japanese cit­i­zens are the most scrupu­lous in this regard.

The report reveals that when a label con­tains an Italian name or brand, 54 per­cent of con­sumers believe that they are buy­ing an Italian prod­uct. The issue of Italian sound­ing can poten­tially affect 60 per­cent of con­sumers in Europe, 44 per­cent in Asia, where Chinese con­sumers are more doubt­ful, and 67 per­cent in the U.S. However, 99 per­cent of con­sumers have the clear per­cep­tion that the Italian sound­ing regards food adul­ter­ation and cheat­ing on consumers.

Italy is at the top for rules on food coun­ter­feit­ing,” said the pres­i­dent of Unaprol, David Granieri, point­ing out that this coun­try has a sys­tem of con­sumer pro­tec­tion rules that is now serv­ing as an exam­ple for other coun­tries. We are glad for the posi­tion expressed by the Justice and Agriculture Committees that improved the decree avoid­ing the dan­ger of the decrim­i­nal­iza­tion,” he added. In this regard, along with the report we con­sign to the insti­tu­tions the fea­si­bil­ity study of a trade­mark to sup­port the whole sup­ply chain and char­ac­ter­ize on the global mar­ket the qual­ity of authen­tic Italian extra vir­gin olive oil, and which include eco­nomic, eth­i­cal against unde­clared work, and supe­rior qual­ity para­me­ters of Italian products.”


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