A study by the University of California Davis found that 69% of store bought olive oils in the U.S. are probably not as labeled, and are actually partially or completely replaced with lower quality olive oil somewhere before they get to the store. They tested 186 samples and some well-known oils including Bertolli, Colavita and Whole Foods failed the test…
Do you know where most olive oil comes from? Well if you said Italy, you’d be giving the same answer as most people. However, Spain is actually the world’s largest producer, producing over 3 times the amount of Italy, but Italy built its export market first and was first to see the brand-value of the premium extra virgin olive oils (EVOO).
Spain has largely been left as a mega-producer with a lack of recognition for their quality EVOO. And that is why I am interested to see what the new Spanish regulations will do for their “brand.” For health reasons, all Spanish olive oil must now be sold in non-reusable bottles. This is being done to ensure that olive oil, particularly in cafes and hotels, cannot be “topped up” from questionable sources. But as a bonus, it also means that people in Spain’s export markets e.g., in the U.S., can now absolutely know that what they are buying is actually genuine. And so Spain now has a tremendous chance to grow its brand. All olive oils that do not have the tamper-proof bottles will be viewed as suspect (particularly if Spain does its job). It is a great opportunity to put Spanish EVOO on the map. It will be interesting to see if Italy responds. – It wasn’t so long ago that the French laughed at the idea of quality U.S. and Australian wines denting their dominance. How did that play out?
Which competitor are you ignoring? (Including your own inertia…)
(BTW. As far as I could tell, no California brand failed the test. So I will keep buying “Corto” and you can dip your bread at my house with confidence…)
— Simon Dixon