`Seville Meeting Asks "What Do Consumers Know About Olive Oil?" - Olive Oil Times

Seville Meeting Asks "What Do Consumers Know About Olive Oil?"

May. 30, 2011
Julie Butler

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How much con­sumers know about the qual­ity of olive oil, and con­tro­ver­sial new EU rules designed to crack down on deodor­ized oil are on the agenda of a new annual con­fer­ence being held tomor­row (May 31) in Seville.

Hosted by the olive oil sec­tor mag­a­zine Oleo, it will also scru­ti­nize cur­rent qual­ity test­ing meth­ods, the pros and cons of panel tast­ing, and what infor­ma­tion bot­tle labels should carry.

Oleo edi­tor Nieves Ortega said there had been a marked improve­ment in the over­all qual­ity of Spanish olive oil in recent years. Consumers, how­ever, remained unaware of this and also of olive oil’s health ben­e­fits and dif­fer­ent types. It is for these rea­sons that the con­fer­ence title is the Spanish equiv­a­lent of What do con­sumers know about the qual­ity of olive oil?”

Ortega said, when asked to name the dif­fer­ent types of olive oil, three in four Spaniards claimed to know the answer but actu­ally just 3 per­cent got it right. Research also showed that nearly 90 per­cent of Spanish con­sumers did not know what a sin­gle vari­etal olive oil was. This comes despite bot­tle labels stat­ing ori­gins and olive vari­eties in recent years.

The con­fer­ence will con­sider the dif­fer­ent respon­si­bil­i­ties at every level of the value chain for trans­mit­ting infor­ma­tion to con­sumers about qual­ity, thereby help­ing increase the sta­tus, and ulti­mately the price, of olive oil, Ortega said.


She said that in regard to label­ing, par­tic­i­pants would dis­cuss how it could be improved and what infor­ma­tion con­sumers should receive, for instance the olive type and organolep­tic qual­i­ties.

With the reli­a­bil­ity of tast­ing pan­els under ques­tion in recent months, she said that the impor­tance of main­tain­ing the panel test for clas­si­fy­ing olive oils,” would also be dis­cussed, adding, it’s a method that has demon­strated its value over time.”

New EU rules that came into effect on April 1 set a limit for alkyl esters in EVOO. Elevated lev­els indi­cate lower qual­ity olive oil, which is often deodor­ized. Ortega said that the new reg­u­la­tions were also on the agenda because they have gen­er­ated a lot of con­tro­versy.”

The International Olive Council will present infor­ma­tion on new meth­ods of analy­sis and qual­ity con­trol it is devel­op­ing, and the regional gov­ern­ment of Andalusia will explain its qual­ity checks and fraud eva­sion mea­sures, which on var­i­ous occa­sions in recent months have detected vir­gin olive oil being sold as EVOO in Spanish super­mar­kets.

Oleo hopes the sem­i­nar will pro­mote the gen­er­a­tion and exchange of ideas on how to address the sec­tor’s most press­ing issues. Of the more than 150 peo­ple expected to attend are Isabel Bombal, direc­tor of Industry and Food Markets within MARM (Spain’s Ministry of the Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs); IOC direc­tor Jean-Louis Barjol; Asoliva direc­tor Rafael Pico; FAECA direc­tor gen­eral Rafael Sánchez de Puerta; and Aurelio del Pino, direc­tor-gen­eral of the Association of Spanish Supermarket Chains (ACES).

On the sci­en­tific side the experts will include Wenceslao Moreda Martino from the Oils and Fats Institute of Seville (IGS); Mercedes Fernández Albaladejo, the head of the IOC Olive Oil Chemistry and Standardization Unit; and Francisco de Paula Rodríguez, who super­vises qual­ity con­trol in the agro-food sec­tor for the Andalusian Government.


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