The outdoor market, or marché in Provence, is famous for its colors and sounds, and it reflects the strong ties of the French to the producer. Locals and tourists go for the freshest of regional and local produce; the best fruit, charcuterie and extra virgin olive oils.
Recently however, there has been a glut of low quality olive oils on sale, and Provençal producers, renowned for their excellent extra virgin olive oils are concerned that the general public is being tricked.
The regional newspaper Var-Matin reported that poor quality olive oil is easily being passed off as olive oil from Provence in these country markets. Displayed with an array of attractive food products from the region, consumers, looking for a bargain and bedazzled by pretty bottles boldly suggesting they contain olive oil from Provence are being lured into buying poorer quality oils. Often the oils are not even made in France
Some are imported, others are low grade French oils packed in decorative containers that convey something made nearby.
Extra virgin olive oil from Provence sells for around 14 euros (18 USD) per liter.
Olive oil producers of the Var, a department in the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur say it’s hard to see imported olive oils, often in typical French packaging, selling like hot cakes in their own local markets.
Olivier Roux president of the committee in charge of promoting of olive oil in the Var and member of L’association Française Interprofessionelle de L’Olive (Afidol) said “If People want to buy olive oil from Spain, Italy of Tunisia, it’s their right but they must know what they’re buying.”
In the interview with Var Matin he added: “Regulations regarding European labeling are not clear. For example because there is no specific regulation determining the height of the lettering in the compulsory UE (Origine Communauté Européene) label, this information is hardly visible on the bottles.”
In an effort to crack down on fraudulently labeled olive oil, professional members from Afidol are spending time this summer visiting the various markets in Provence informing the public on provenance and the authenticity of French olive oil.
Afidol added a new logo to their labels this year which should helps consumers identify the different Provencal flavors. Gout a l’ancienne replaces fruité noir, gout subtil for fruité mûr and gout intense replaces fruité vert.