Thursday, August 21, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

UCD survey: Consumers like olive oil for health, flavor but need more facts

By
From page A3 | July 05, 2013 |

UC Davis photo

Consumers in the United States are enthusiastic about the flavor and potential health benefits of olive oil but still a bit hazy on how to select, evaluate and describe this ancient but increasingly popular food product, according to a new survey released recently by the Olive Center at UC Davis.

A survey report, which also suggests opportunities for olive oil producers to better package and market their products, is available from the Olive Center at http://olivecenter.ucdavis.edu.

“The survey revealed that consumers clearly need more information that will help them understand the choices in olive oil that are available to them,” said Dan Flynn, executive director of the Olive Center and a co-author of the study.

“With the olive oil industry in the United States now experiencing a renaissance, this is the perfect time for producers to help consumers better appreciate the flavor contrasts between fresh extra virgin olive oil and substandard oils,” Flynn said.

The survey, which probed the perceptions and attitudes of more than 2,200 individuals during spring 2012, was conducted online in two phases.

The survey revealed that more than 70 percent of the respondents were using olive oil for a variety of culinary purposes, including making salad dressings and dips, grilling, finishing or drizzling, and also baking. A surprisingly large number — 86 percent — of the respondents indicated that they also were using olive oil to sauté and deep fry foods.

“This was particularly interesting, because conventional wisdom has long held that olive oil has a low smoke point,” Flynn said. “Olive oil, in truth, has a high-enough smoke point for most cooking applications, and it’s gratifying to see that consumers have discovered that on their own.”

Olive oil is usually marketed in the United States as three different grades: extra virgin, pure, and light or extra light. No more than one out of four survey participants demonstrated an accurate understanding of these grades. For example, many respondents thought the term “pure” indicated the highest quality oil, when in reality it is applied to lower-grade olive oil blends. Extra virgin is the term for the highest-quality olive oil.

Similarly, most respondents incorrectly thought that refining was done to make good olive oil even better; the process is actually used to make inferior olive oils edible. And most respondents incorrectly assumed that olive oil color is an accurate indicator of quality.

Flavor was the primary reason for selecting olive oil over other oils, according to 80 percent of the survey respondents. The survey coordinators noted that this result is significant, because earlier studies have indicated that two-thirds of the top-selling olive oil brands analyzed by the UCD Olive Center were found to have rancidity and other defects. The researchers suggest that consumers may be developing an affinity for substandard flavors, and that olive oil producers would be well advised to develop strategies for introducing more consumers to the flavor of high-quality extra virgin olive oils.

Eighty percent of the respondents also indicated that they chose olive oil as a healthier alternative to other oils and fats. Because of the importance of health benefits to consumers, olive oil producers may want to conduct research on the comparative healthfulness of the various grades of olive oil, survey coordinators suggested.

When asked to describe desirable olive oil flavor, nearly 80 percent of the respondents agreed that “fresh” was a good descriptor — which is in sync with industry standards. However, the terms “fruity,” “peppery” and “grassy” — also common terms use to describe high-quality olive oil — did not resonate with most of the survey respondents. These findings suggest that olive oil producers might want to highlight freshness over other lesser-understood terms in their packaging and marketing efforts.

Flynn collaborated on the survey and report with lead researcher Selina C. Wang, research director for the UC Davis Olive Center, and Ben Moscatello, a senior business analyst and alumnus of the UC Davis Graduate School of Management.

Comments

comments

.

News

 
Report details the face of hunger in Yolo County

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Summer jobs aren’t always in the bag

By Spencer Ault | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Davis Arts Center gets a new look, thanks to Brooks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

More details emerge in Woodland officer shootings

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Bob Dunning: Taking on a Specktacular challenge

By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2 | Gallery

For the record

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

 
The big moveout, on ‘Davisville’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Sunder campaign will be at Farmers Market

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Classic car show slated in Woodland

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Students can practice safe bike routes to junior highs

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
‘Monsters University’ to be screened in Central Park

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

California regulators approve PG&E rate hike

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
America’s ‘it’ school? Look west, Harvard

By New York Times News Service | From Page: B3

School board preps for new academic year

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3

 
Public opinion sought about Nishi Gateway

By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

 
Davis Art Garage honored; bench dedication set

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Woodland historical award winners announced

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

 
.

Forum

Can’t understand this change

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

Delta-friendly water bond is a win for all of California

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
Bravo! The road diet works

By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6

Support water bond in November

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Relay for Life team says thanks

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

.

Sports

Aggie QB is back to pass … Touchdown, Tina! Tina?

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Hard hoops schedule features defending national champs at UCD

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Crisp’s big hit helps A’s

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

UCD roundup: Aggie gymnasts are awesome at academics

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Sacramento scores early to snap skid

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

Unplayable? Cubs, rain hand Giants a loss

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Features

Food that travels well for cooking out

By Julie Cross | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
.

Arts

 
Crowd funding campaign offers support for Art Theater of Davis

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
Visit Crawfish and Catfish Festival in Woodland

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Artists invited to paint at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Goldberg, Milstein to play at Village Homes

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

The voice on the CD comes alive at Music Together concert

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Railroad museum will host Aberbach memorial

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Wednesday, August 20, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6