Who has not heard about the magnificent and tasty Italian virgin olive oil? Yet how many people know that much of this oil is Spanish? Help us to stop the Italian scam on Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Indeed Spain is the largest producer of olive oil in the world and sells 65% of that oil to Italians who make their own labels and export that oil to the rest of the world. Apparently Spain is a better producer than seller.
In fact, Italy exports three times more oil than it produces. But what consumers may not realise is that Italy exports oil whose labels say “100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil” and yet only 60 % of that oil is extra virgin. This 60% is mostly Spanish, which has the properties and quality of a real Extra Virgin oil (in aroma and acidity). Italy uses Greek and Moroccan oil as well.
The only way that Spanish oil can demonstrate its quality is with the Protected Designations of Origin. This certification is only granted if the bottling of the oil takes place in the same place where it is produced. One example of this Protected Denomination of outstanding quality is D.O. Sierra Mágina. This area, located in the south of Spain (Jaen), is the largest area with certificate of origin of those registered in the European Union. The oil from this area is famous for its quality and beneficial properties, and is one of the best oils in Spain and hence in the world.
One of the reasons why Spainisdelicious was born was to stand up and point out good quality Spanish products, and to attempt to protect artisans and small producers from the dirty tactics of big industry. All the products we talk about are sold in our partner shop Spaininabox, and are made by small producers that care about their produce as if they were their own children.
So if you want to buy really good extra virgin oil, first you have to check if it has its certificate of origin, and question the famous Italian oil that is on the shelves of all the big stores. If you wish to know more about the provenance of Italian Olive Oil I strongly recommend you take a look at Nicholas Blechman’s article in The New York Times or this article and Tom Mueller’s article, both in The Guardian.
Spainisdelicious will try, as best it can, to act as an antidote to these tactics in two ways: by highlighting selected producers that work ethically in the production process, and by arranging visits to their workplaces so you can see with your own eyes how everything is done.
Remember that you may pay a bit more for Spanish oil than for Italian, but sometimes it is better to spend a little bit more on our health. Buying cheaper olive oil in the end is going to be a false economy because you are likely paying for something that is not even olive oil.