The Role of Sensory Profile in the Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Consumers Choice

sensory profiles promoted by the Extra-virgin olive oil (EVO) is an important element of the Mediterranean diet and a valuable agricultural crop for Southern Europe countries in terms of both farm income and cultivated area. Moreover, given the increased popularity of the Mediterranean diet among consumers in US, Canada, Australia and large parts Asia, EVO consumption has grown almost worldwide. In Italy olive-oil production has switched from low yields and low-input cultivation to a capital intensive farming system involving innovations of both agricultural practices and processing techniques: sensory characteristics of the product were significantly improved, changing the traditional taste from “neutral odour and flavour” and well known organoleptic features, to new complex sensory profiles. This evolution is due to the developments that have taken place in the sensory analysis of olive oil and the use of trained panel responses as a means of monitoring and guidance in the production of quality oils. Currently, agricultural research and sensory panels managed not only to identify what aspects of taste and smell are indicators of quality of the oil but also the correlation of these with the production techniques. The situation today is that consumers can find on the market EVOs characterized by well-differentiated sensory profiles. On the consumption side, however, buyers seem still to prefer neutral flavour oils with little or no personality. This aspect deserves a central position in present research on EVOs because consumer preferences risk undermining all efforts to improve the quality of the product made from the production side. In the following work, the role of sensory components in the consumers preferences of EVOs will be explicitly evaluated through an Hedonic Price model. During October 2012, a sample of 68 EVOs available on the shelf of a Supermarket belonging to one of the largest big retailers operating in Italy were bought. The 68 different EVOOs were also evaluated by a panel of expert tasters to get a precise sensory profile for each of them. The results estimation of a simultaneous two equations model well highlighted the idiosyncrasy of the consumers’ preferences towards the trained experts.

Schiefer, Gerhard
Rickert, Ursula
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ISSN 2194-511X (Other)
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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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