Investigate the behaviour and the habits of the consumers from central-southern Italy in relation to extra olive oil consumption, focussing on the impact of protected designation of origin (PDO) and EU–organic certification on purchase intention and quality perception.
A specific questionnaire was submitted to 160 consumers; a subsample of ten experts, ten semi-experts and ten habitual consumers of olive oil tested, through a blind test first and a normal one then, three Italian samples: an extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) without certification, an organic EVOO and a PDO EVOO, which were characterised also from a chemical-physical point of view. The answers provided during the tastings were statistically analysed and compared.
People interviewed prefer local olive oils; they are positively influenced by PDO/organic certification, while price is not a decisive factor on the purchasing choices. According to tasting panel results: experts gave consistent answers preferring organic olive oil, semi-experts are positively influenced by the PDO brand contrary to what they claimed; non-experts would buy EVOO, although they are positively influenced by the PDO brand and negatively by the organic certification.
Only knowledge and experience can aid consumers make consistent and aware choices. Information campaigns could help them to distinguish products, correctly identify food attributes and overcome their scepticism towards quality of organic products.
Few works investigated the impact of quality and sustainability labelling on perception of olive oils, valuing the consistency between answers provided before and after sensory assessments.