South African olive oils have recently compared favourably with some of the best in the world, with several local producers receiving top awards at international olive oil competitions.
SA Olive initiated a market research study to test and compare the quality of local vs. imported extra-virgin olive oils in South Africa, with the main purpose being to inform the public about the true quality of available olive oils in South Africa. The quality testing of olive oil is important as there are currently no regulations or legislation governing olive oil imports into South Africa.
The study, conducted in 2011, revealed that 26 percent of imported oils were falsely labeled as extra virgin. Several importers were exposed for passing off inferior olive oils as virgin whereas none of the local oils showed any sign of being substandard.
The Commitment To Compliance (CTC) Seal, an initiative from SA Olive, indicates that the oil is 100 percent South African and that the producer is committed to truthful labelling and complies with the standards of the SA Olive Codes of Practice, which are based on international quality standards.
One area where price does become a matter of concern for South African farmers and producers relates to the cost of imported olive oils. European farmers receive millions of Euros each year in order to subsidise their prices and keep the industry competitive in export markets. The result is that imported oils, such as those from Italy or Spain, often carry higher margins than locally produced olive oils which do not benefit from any subsidies.
The labour-intensive nature of the industry generates employment opportunities for thousands of South Africans every year, from harvesting to production. Educating the public is the key to reducing the dependency on imported oils and ensuring that the potential of this liquid gold is shared with all South Africans.
Read the full article by Omeros Demetriou here.