Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is perceived to be higher quality, healthier and better tasting than European product, according to recent consumer research.

This finding is just one of the themes explored in the two quantitative Project Popeye reports, that aim to give growers access to Australian figures on consumer attitude and usage of EVOO.

The reports, produced through an investment in the Hort Innovation Olive Fund, combine the data and key messages from a sample size of 518 EVOO users that have purchased the product in the last 12 months. Their feedback was collected through an open-ended online questionnaire that was held in 2016 and 2017.

Project lead Rigas Harbilas, from Sydney-based consumer research agency The Practice, developed the survey questions in consultation with olive oil producers. The survey covered topics such as nutritional awareness, product size preference, drivers of EVOO purchase and EVOO usage compared to other oils on the market.

“Often industry research is qualitative so it is important to have quantitative research, like these reports, to measure how the industry is tracking and identify areas for improvement,” Mr Harbilas said.

“A surprising discovery was the correlation between growing up in an EVOO household and being a heavy buyer later in life given 45 per cent of heavy buyers (purchase EVOO every two weeks) reported frequent consumption growing up.

“This statistic highlights just how important it is to get EVOO into households. Influencing cooking culture to encourage greater EVOO use is an important element in achieving this.”

The reports also play an important role in monitoring and evaluating current levy investments, and offer perspective on possible future R&D investment areas.

“Comparing 2016 and 2017 findings is helpful in determining shifts in behavior or usage, and helps to validate priority areas for the industry such as improving health perceptions and cooking options of EVOO,” Mr Harbilas said.

“The research shows one third of EVOO consumers don’t know or think to cook with EVOO, highlighting the opportunities available to educate consumers on the versatility and health benefits of Australian product through levy funded projects.”

Some of the statistics detailed in the reports include:

  • 56 per cent of EVOO users prefer EVOO for stove top cooking
  • 53 per cent of EVOO users purchased their most recent bottle of EVOO on special
  • 40 per cent of EVOO users believe all EVOO products are all similar
  • 42 per cent of EVOO users buy 1 litre bottles because they don’t have space for larger tins
  • 19 per cent of EVOO users are confident they know what Extra Virgin means.

The reports will be available shortly on the Hort Innovation Olive Fund page http://www.horticulture.com.au/olive

For more information please contact Will Gordon, Hort Innovation Relationship Management Lead on 0427 920 924 or will.gordon@horticulture.com.au

This project has been funded by Hort Innovation, using the olive research and development levy and contributions from the Australian Government. Hort Innovation is the grower owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation for Australian horticulture.