No Excuses for Poor Olive Oil Labeling

An article posted on Olive Oil Times by Julie Butler
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Olive oil labels should achieve three objectives – capture attention, comply with the law, and provide all the information consumers want, says Spanish marketing expert David Martínez Roig.

Yet in a small survey, Martínez Roig found most alright at the first, just okay at the second and pretty lousy at the third.

In a recent blog post, he said he had randomly chosen ten bottles of Spanish extra virgin olive oil and analyzed their labels according to his criteria.

In terms of being aesthetically appealing, differentiating and attention-grabbing, this was where the labels did best, showing attention had been paid to graphic design.

As for complying with relevant legislation, most of the labels did, but “it was rare to find examples going beyond the minimum demanded by law to provide additional information,” he said. “Furthermore, in some cases the size and font type was designed to make it difficult to read certain parts of the information.”

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What consumers want to know

Martínez Roig says consumers these days want much more information and while producers might not want to saturate their labels with it, there are ways around this, such as using bottle neck tags, QR codes and links to web sites and videos providing more information.

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The bottling location, extraction method, olive varieties, best before dates, and suggested uses for an oil are among the details consumers want, he says. In the case of a blended oil, instead of merely complying with EU law with statements such as “blend of olive oils of European Union origin” the origin details should be provided and could serve as a differentiating factor.

Where relevant, consumers may also want to know additional details such as the carbon footprint, and ecological or nutritional properties, such as the content of antioxidants like hydroxytyrosol.

Martínez Roig said another challenge for consumers, particularly in supermarkets, is the use of terms such as ‘light’ and ‘intense’, without explaining what they mean.

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