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Extra Virgin Alliance represents global extra virgin olive oil products in stable US market

By Deniz Ataman

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Olive oil

As US demand for high-quality olive oil continues to grow, the Extra Virgin Alliance (EVA) represents global extra virgin olive oil products, providing visibility and awareness for brands from diverse countries, Alexandra Kicenik Devarenne, director, EVA, shared with FoodNavigator-USA during the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City last month.

Olive oil continues to raise consumer interest​ for its sustainability, health benefits and versatility in cooking, Devarenne said.

In an April report​ by EVA’s parent association, North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA), US demand for olive oil remained “relatively stable,” with an 18% average price increase last year, compared to price increases upwards of 50% in other countries – for example, Italy saw a 45% increase in olive oil, contributing to a decrease in consumption.

NAOOA attributes US demand and consumers’ slightly higher price tolerance as a reflection of their “appreciation of the health and culinary benefits of high-quality extra virgin olive oil,” said Dusan Kaljevic, NAOOA vice chair and CEO of Filippo Berio USA in the report.

EVA offers global representation for small brands

Within NAOOA, EVA represents a select group of products. EVA certification signifies adherence to rigorous quality standards encompassing chemical and sensory attributes, production practices and packaging. Crucially, all EVA products are extra virgin olive oils.

EVA’s members are “often very small brands” from a diverse range of countries, including Italy, Spain, Morocco, Tunisia, Portugal and North America, among others, where they have global representation within EVA’s community, Devarenne said.

Beyond quality assurance, EVA membership grants access to valuable industry resources and networking opportunities. This includes participation in marketing promotions, industry events and collaboration with NAOOA lobbyists. NAOOA represents over two-thirds of olive oil consumed in North America, and membership requires twice-yearly randomized quality testing.

Extra virgin is the highest grade of olive oil. It is distinguished by chemical parameters such as free acidity (extra virgin contains lower acidity and is associated with a higher quality oil), premium flavor (extra virgin is free from flavor faults and exhibits a more intense, fruity flavor) and processing (extra virgin is always made from the first pressing of the olives and without excessive heat).

Aligning with EVA’s ‘plus factors’

Qualifying brands can license the EVA icon on products and have placement on EVA’s product directory online, which gives viewers more details about each brand.

“We give the producer’s story … their location and you can learn about the ‘plus factors’ on the products,” she said.

The ‘plus factors,’ Devarenne explained, are broken down into three categories: the oil, the land and the people.

The oil relates to the extra virgin olive oil itself and includes best practices in storage (e.g. temperature controls in production, storage and shipping), tasting notes, traceability and transparency with special recognition for third-part verification, official polyphenol content declaration (per government regulated polyphenol health claims) and cultivar declaration.

Land factors encompass farm and farming, in addition to environmental stewardship, including single estate harvest and production, organic certifications, provenance declaration, habitat restoration and sustainable production and regenerative agriculture practices, among others.

The last factor, people, relates to the individuals who own and operate a brand and includes family-owned and operated businesses, small farm sourcing and community programs, among others.

According to EVA, not every extra virgin olive oil will meet the “plus factors,” however, the wide range of factors reflects the diversity of extra virgin olive oil and its makers.

Devarenne pointed out that as a non-profit organization, EVA is “focused on promoting … extra virgin olive oil,” and that most of what it does is “educational.” As an olive oil expert, Devarenne leads tasting classes and media support “to help get the message across about what is olive oil, what is extra virgin olive oil and sustainability messages,” she said.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to EVA's certification for producers. Rather, EVA represents a select group of extra virgin olive oil products. Additionally, the revised version of this story now includes further clarifications around technical characteristics of extra virgin olive oil.


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