`Deoleo Calls for New Names for Olive Oil Grades - Olive Oil Times

Deoleo Calls for New Names for Olive Oil Grades

May. 6, 2013
Julie Butler

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Spanish food giant Deoleo wants rad­i­cal changes to the qual­ity cri­te­ria and allowed cat­e­gory names and mar­ket­ing claims for olive oil.

The com­pany, which is invest­ing strongly in emerg­ing mar­kets as sales slump in mature ones, says cur­rent terms such as extra vir­gin’, vir­gin’ and refined’ olive oil should be replaced with words mean­ing more to consumers.

And it says qual­ity assess­ment should go far beyond the sim­plis­tic sen­sory method or phys­i­cal and chem­i­cal analysis.”

Deoleo devoted a sec­tion of its lat­est annual report to the issue, say­ing it might be some­what controversial…but the ensu­ing debate will help to con­struct the future of our sector.”

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Call for move away from tech­ni­cal parameters”

Under Customers as deman­ders of qual­ity,” the Madrid-based com­pany said the con­cept of qual­ity must shift from tech­ni­cal para­me­ters to sub­jec­tive val­ues based on the opin­ions of those who buy our products.”

To develop new mar­kets beyond the European culi­nary tra­di­tion, pre­vi­ous def­i­n­i­tions of qual­ity formed in the Mediterranean region needed to be rethought.

The inflex­i­bil­ity of present-day laws and reg­u­la­tions pre­vents the olive oil sec­tor from express­ing dif­fer­ent prod­uct qual­i­ties with appro­pri­ate nam­ing, since the cur­rent clas­si­fi­ca­tion has been drawn up from the point of view of tech­ni­cal fea­tures and prop­er­ties, not that of qual­ity as it is per­ceived by consumers.”

Consumers in new olive oil mar­kets were accus­tomed to odor­less, col­or­less oils and fats which barely affect the taste of the food and are used merely to help in the culi­nary processes,” it said. In cook­ing oils used for fry­ing we should per­haps talk about their sta­bil­ity, smoke point, sen­sory con­tri­bu­tion to the food; in oils used for dress­ings, their sen­sory pro­file is prob­a­bly more impor­tant (green fruit, ripe fruit, har­mony, bal­ance, etc.).”

Torpid legal framework”

On the nam­ing of prod­ucts, Deoleo said it should be pos­si­ble to give each oil an ade­quate name that reflects what is actu­ally being sold and will not mis­lead consumers.”

Olive oil reg­u­la­tions should allow the sec­tor to use nam­ing and mar­ket­ing tools that go hand-in-hand with any con­sumer product.”

Consumers needed new fla­vors, tex­tures and for­mats meet­ing their real needs, it said. None of this is pos­si­ble today within the tor­pid legal frame­work,” it said.

Current sys­tem pre­vents segmentation”

Asked what new names were pro­posed, a Deoleo spokesman told Olive Oil Times the com­pany was still draft­ing new terms and did not want to release details yet. Contact had been made with Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture on the issue but the International Olive Council would have the final word on any pro­posal, he said.

The tra­di­tional cat­e­gories of vir­gin’, extra vir­gin’ and refined’ olive oil would be superceded under this new approach, which seeks to adapt the nomen­cla­ture to the actual use of a prod­uct and to con­sumer expec­ta­tions, not only to organolep­tic (and chem­i­cal) characteristics.”

The cur­rent sys­tem pre­vented prod­uct seg­men­ta­tion that could be use­ful for con­sumers. Deoleo would like more lee­way to high­light olive oil’s health prop­er­ties, such as its con­tent of oleic acid, vit­a­mins and polyphe­nols, or its dif­fer­ent uses, such as for fry­ing, sea­son­ing or grilling.

It’s about intro­duc­ing more flex­i­bil­ity into olive oil regulations…so they allow dif­fer­ent types of olive oil to be offered in each mar­ket,” he said.

In 2011, Deoleo (under its for­mer name SOS Group) was among par­ties that responded dur­ing con­sul­ta­tion on a pro­posed olive oil stan­dard for Australia and New Zealand.

Its objec­tions to the stan­dard included that the it would act as a trade bar­rier for imported oils, partly because of nam­ing the cat­e­gories dif­fer­ently than the rest of the world so that importers must make spe­cific changes to the labeling.”

Australian urges caution

Asked for her reac­tion to Deoleo’s pro­posal, Australian Olive Association CEO Lisa Rowntree said the idea of help­ing con­sumers con­nect to the prod­uct was a good one, but this tac­tic must not be used to enable unscrupu­lous mar­keters to trick unsus­pect­ing con­sumers into buy­ing a par­tic­u­lar prod­uct when they are not.”

For years chem­i­cally refined oil has been labeled as pure’ and light’ in Australia, trick­ing con­sumers into think­ing they are get­ting a low calo­rie’ oil, and pure’ in most places, means the best’, so to put the words pure’ on an oil that is bleached and deodor­ized is just plain deceptive.

Until the indus­try can start to play hon­estly and fairly my worry would be that these pro­posed flow­ery’ mar­ket­ing terms and ideas will just become another way to ensure that low grade oils make their way into the kitchens of unsus­pect­ing con­sumers,” Rowntree said.

Deoleo opened a sales office in China ear­lier this year and plans to soon open oth­ers in Malaysia, Colombia and India.



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