Farmers, for their part, have repeatedly denounced the low prices they receive for their production and that is one of the causes that quality can suffer ups and downs.
And between pressures from distribution and packaging firms, liquid gold may not always be of standard quality. That partly explains how extra virgin oil is sold in stores for less than three euros, when other brands require charging at least eight with glass containers to be profitable. Some batches of product may not have quality characteristics identifying extra virgin olive oil.
The Balearic Government reports that it carried out a score of analyzes in 2019 and detected quality deficiencies in 12 brands. Two of which agreed to pay the penalty that was set.
These are El Corte Inglés, which offered a sample with the category of extra virgin when it was only virgin (19,200 euros fine) and Oli Caimari, who advertised as extra virgin an oil that was only lampante (fine of 10,750 euros, with a reduction 50% for voluntary payment).
There is a penalty to Koipe and Maestros de Hojiblanca, for a joint value of 48,000 euros as they are the same company. Others sanctioned have been Olivar de Segura and Borges, the first for offering as an organic extra virgin what was only virgin and the second because in reality it was only lampante, with proposed fines worth 24,000 euros in each case. The first of these brands recurred.
Between analysis and counter-analysis, suspicion is on the table, as are the sanctions that are already firm after the third conclusive analysis, at least in the case of the Balearic Islands.
Appeals are usually presented with the hope of delaying the payment of the fine or that some kind of formal defect occurs, but it is usually difficult to avoid sanctions.
The calibration of the quality of oils has always been a dark matter subject to points of view and cross opinions, but the fines imposed for the oils marketed in 2019 are firm.
Quality supervision proves complex for brands, also for distribution, and it leads to a difficult decision for consumers between perceived quality and adequate price.
Lampante olive oil is the juice resulting from the poorer quality olives, usually from the last olives of the campaign, harvested from the ground or already in the fermentation process, with deficiencies in the production process and which result in an oil with an acidity greater than 2% and multiple flavor defects.
This type of oil, recognized as “defective” by the Asoliva employer’s association, is usually taken from the oil mills to the industrial refineries to produce other types of oils and by-products.
The name ‘lampante’ comes from a lamp, because it was used in the past to power lamps. They require to be refined to eliminate their defects. Refined oil loses odor and flavor.