PRICE wars are pushing Andalucian olive oil sellers to resort to fraud, a new investigation reveals.
The Junta’s health department took samples of 25 of ‘extra virgin’ oil bottles on sale in the main olive producing region of Jaen and found 14 of them to be of inferior quality.
Some of the oil turned out to be the lower quality ‘virgin’ blend; other products were of even lower grade.
The health department is blaming cut-throat price competition among retailers for diluting the olive oil quality.
Ongoing weakness of Spanish consumer demand is making competition pressures even more acute.
“There are firms that market ‘extra virgin oil’ for a price that just can’t be competitive, as the cost of producing such a product would be above the final price tag,” said the Junta’s health secretary Maria Jesus Montero.
She has not named the shops under suspicion.
In February, supermarket giant Alcampo was denounced by the national authorities for labeling its Auchan oil olive brand as extra virgin when it fact it was a refined mixture of oils.
Andalucian agricultural authorities, however, has rejected the latest investigation by the health department.
“The 25 samples are not verified or recognized by anyone,” said the Junta’s agricultural secretary Clara Aguilera. “This is a false alarm that doesn’t in any way correspond to the reality of the Andalucian [olive] sector.”