Lidl and Bertolli fined for fraudulent olive oil: “a three euro olive oil should make you reflect”


The discount supermarket Lidl received a €550,000 fine for selling fake extra virgin olive oil under its Primadonna brand which failed sensory panel tests, according to Olive Oil Times.

Simultaneously, the world’s largest olive oil producer Deoleo, received a fine of €300,000 for branding malpractice of its Bertolli gentile, Sasso classico, and Carapelli il frantolio ‘extra virgin’ olive oils which, after inspection, were downgraded seven brands to virgin.

The investigation was launched by a consumers’ magazine in Italy which assessed the 20 most popular brands of olive oil, nine of whose extra virgin labels were found to be false.

The president of Konsumer Fabrizio Premuti stated “the Antitrust sentence provides clarity on the major olive oil labels that we find in supermarkets and above all on those who sold us virgin olive oil declaring and advertising it as extra virgin […] A real Italian extra virgin olive oil has a cost of production higher than €6, therefore a €3 extra virgin olive oil should make you reflect.”‘

Record global olive oil consumption despite widespread fraud

A recent article by Forbes has stated that despite the widely reported fraud in the olive oil industry, consumers are purchasing olive oil in record quantities.

Wrongly-labelled olive oil continues to enter markets and well-known olive oil brands remain on supermarket shelves despite being investigated for oil adulteration.

According to Forbes, olive oil consumption has increased by 73% in the last 25 years to 3,295,911 tons. Meanwhile, foul play has become even more rampant with illegal activity racking up estimated revenues of €16 billion last year in Italy alone.

The main reasons cited include the evolution of dietary habits in major markets such as the U.S. where consumption is up 250% over 25 years to 339,512 tons, and new markets such as Russia, Brasil and Japan. Japan has seen an increase of 1400% over 25 years to 66,000 tons. Italy still tops the group in terms of olive oil consumption at 640,000 tons, followed by Spain at 540,000 tons.



However, there has been some evidence in consumers reacting to widespread olive oil fraud. The Olive Oil Times reported that Italy’s olive oil exports fell by 16% in 2015. Coldiretti, the national farmers association in Italy, sees this as an increasingly strong demand in the United States (the main non-EU market for Italy) for transparency of the origin of products.

Additionally, The Local reported on Thursday that an EU decision was made to remove customs duty on Tunisian olive oil (70,000 tons over the next two years) to help Tunisia’s stricken economy. Colditetti criticised the decision which could easily be mixed with Italian olive oils and marketed internationally as ‘Made in Italy’, as a result “It doesn’t help Tunisian producers, harms Italian ones and increases the risk that consumers will be exposed to fraud,” said Coldiretti president Roberto Moncalvo.

Talking about tackling fraud, Monclavo highlighted the need to “tighten the legislation with the full implementation of the rules that have been introduced with the “saves oil” law, (n. 9/2013)” including sensory evaluation and import quality checks. ““Credibility is the key to succeeding in international markets” he stated, urging “renewed commitment at the level of environmental, social and economic sustainability”.

‘Ode To Olive Oil’ by Pablo Neruda

Ode To Olive Oil

Near the murmuring
In the grain fields, of the waves
Of wind in the oat-stalks
The olive tree
With its silver-covered mass
Severe in its lines
In its twisted
Heart in the earth:
The graceful
By the hands
Which made
The dove
And the oceanic
Of nature
And there
The dry
Olive Groves
The blue sky with cicadas
And the hard earth
The prodigy
The perfect
Of the olives
With their constellations, the foliage
Then later,
The bowls,
The miracle,
The olive oil.
I love
The homelands of olive oil
The olive groves
Of Chacabuco, in Chile
In the morning
Feathers of platinum
Forests of them
Against the wrinkled
Mountain ranges.
In Anacapri, up above,
Over the light of the Italian sea
Is the despair of olive trees
And on the map of Europe
A black basketfull of olives
Dusted off by orange blossoms
As if by a sea breeze
Olive oil,
The internal supreme
Condition for the cooking pot
Pedestal for game birds
Heavenly key to mayonaise
Smoothe and tasty
Over the lettuce
And supernatural in the hell
Of the king mackerals like archbishops
Our chorus
Powerful smoothness
You sing:
You are the Spanish
There are syllables of olive oil
There are words
Useful and rich-smelling
Like your fragrant material
It’s not only wine that sings
Olive oil sings too
It lives in us with its ripe light
And among the good things of the earth
I set apart
Olive oil,
Your ever-flowing peace, your green essence
Your heaped-up treasure which descends
In streams from the olive tree.

Harvest is here!

We’ve been harvesting….

As November turns to December, and the Greek sun starts to lose its heat, our olives here in Messinia are ready to be picked. The whole landscape is dotted with olive trees… some old, gnarly and with eccentric personalities, and others young, tall, and proud. The olive pickers are just as much a mixed bag, and the groves around our home come alive with the sound of trees being combed, and pickers old and young coming out of the woodwork, discussing how best to harvest this year’s bounty of koroneiki olives. Soon the air even tastes of fresh olive oil; like the sharp scent of fresh cut grass.


Once the olives have been collected in large sacks, each farmer brings them to the village press to see them squeezed immediately into fresh extra virgin olive oil.

It’s been a family effort this year again, with long days combing the trees and plenty of picnic lunches in the groves, and nightly we’re all left feeling tired and healthy.
The first taste of our fresh pressing, drenched on a piece of thick homemade bread is one of the best meals of the year!

Food “Research” trip to EatStreet, Barcelona

This weekend, Honest Toil took a little “culinary research” trip to Barcelona´s street-food festival called ´´Eatstreet´.
It was squeezed between Barcelona´s own version of the Gherkin, and another modernist building containing an amazing flea market; Mercat del Encants.
We managed to get some good shots of sizzling food and sizzling Catalans boogying in the October heat, and we chatted to the lovely food producers before returning home with bellies and memory cards full to the brim!
EATstreet eatstreet2 eatstreet3

Olive Harvesting for Beginners

Olive Harvesting for Beginners.
By Rory Cooper

Back in England, whenever people quizzed us about what we wanted to do while travelling, our first answer was always the same ‘we want to help out on an olive harvest in Greece’. I’ve no idea where the idea came from or who had it first but it’s one of the only things Juliet and I have ever agreed on so wholeheartedly, so we definitely had to do it. It was probably that we knew we’d be setting off at around the time that the olive harvests started in Greece and so we thought it would be easy to find a host who’d feed us and give us somewhere to stay in return for picking a few olives.

Our host Patrick told us the date that the harvest would start and volunteers started to turn up just in time for the big event, some were travellers such as ourselves, some were friends , others friends of friends, until the house was seemingly teeming with people and the day grew closer. Everywhere you looked across the panoramic view of the Greek countryside white columns of smoke from the olive branch fires billowed into the sky, signifying that in that particular grove harvesting was already in full swing.
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A recluse on the loose

A recluse on the loose.

Tim’s account a la Dr. Suess

In the far south of Greece
lives the Peloponesse
where upon the sea breeze
grow green olive trees.
And there in the shade
of a mountain is made,
the oil of Villa Kitrini.

After crossing the sea, it was late in the day
I arrived in the town where soon I would stay.
Three in the front, we climbed rocky miles
Pat at the wheel, me and Robyn who smiles.
We opened the door, and though the hour was late
I met Heidi and Sarance and King Louis the Great.
The mad ruler of Villa Kitrini.

Why was I there?
What good could I do?
And why were Sara and Terance here too
where upon the sea breeze green olive trees grow?
Helpx is a website.
Visit it, they know.
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