The results of a taste test car­ried out this month by the British based prod­uct-test­ing mag­a­zine ‘Which?’ sug­gested that con­sumers may not nec­es­sar­ily need to reach for the most expen­sive bot­tle when search­ing for high qual­ity olive oil.

The test was car­ried out by a panel of three olive oil experts who sam­pled 12 dif­fer­ent extra vir­gin oils from big name brands such as Filippo Berio as well as less known oils from lead­ing British High Street super­mar­kets. Only one of the judges names was men­tioned, a long-time U.K. olive oil importer Charles Carey.

The Italian oil pro­ducer ‘Napolina’ ranked high­est on the judges’ final results and proved to be more pop­u­lar than lead­ing brands Bertolli and Filippo Berio. Napolina’s vic­tory was sur­pris­ing, the mag­a­zine said, because they won with their ‘Standard Variety’ which was awarded 67%, trump­ing the brand’s ‘Special Selection’ which judges con­sid­ered to be an infe­rior oil despite car­ry­ing a price tag at least 2 pounds higher.

Which? said: “The label on the Napolina Special Selection oil, which costs £5.69 for a 500ml bot­tle, says it is made from the high­est qual­ity olives. But our experts pre­ferred Napolina’s stan­dard extra vir­gin olive oil, which cost £3.79 for 500ml. Not only did the cheaper Napolina oil beat its big brother, it came top of our test over­all…”

While Napolina came out on top, oils from big ‘qual­ity’ High Street brands like Tescos, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer failed to impress the judges. The report stated:

“Our expert panel was not impressed with the olive oils from Tesco and Marks & Spencer. Tesco’s oil was too bit­ter, with one expert iden­ti­fy­ing fla­vors that were “dusty” and ‘like a mouldy piece of bread’.”

One judge was even said to have com­mented that when sam­pling the extra vir­gin olive oil from Marks & Spencer, dis­tinct “farm­yard fla­vors” could be detected.

Aldi had one of the cheap­est oils on the list at £2.25 per 750ml but despite its low price, the panel of experts judged it to be one of the high­est qual­ity oils. They ranked it in 2nd place with a score of 60% and described the taste as being ‘clean, light and del­i­cate’. This was sec­ond time that Aldi had been so favor­ably ranked in a Which? taste test.

According to Britain’s Daily Mail news­pa­per, con­sump­tion of olive oil in the U.K. has increased steadily over the past 20 years. Recent reports show that half of homes now use it, com­pared with 35 per­cent in 2001. Brits con­sume 28 mil­lion liters a year and annual sales are at record lev­els of around £150 mil­lion a year.

The Which? Magazine Olive Oil Rankings 2011

1. Napolina (Standard) £3.79 67%
2. Aldi Evoo £2.25* 60%
3. Bertolli Originale £3.69 58%
4. Morrisons £1.84 56%
5. C0-oper­a­tive £2.29 56%
6. Asda £1.84 52%
7. Filippo Berio £2.98 51%
8. Lidl Primadonna £2.25* 48%
9. Waitrose £2.48 45%
10. Sainsbury’s £1.99 45%
11. Marks & Spencer £2.79 41%
12. Tesco £1.84 38%

*750ml. All other prices are for 500ml.



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