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.

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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