Over the years, niche-differentiation strategies and food policies have pushed quality standards of European extra-virgin olive oil towards a product that has a sensory profile consisting of fruity, bitter and pungent notes, with such oils having excellent healthy features. However, it is unclear whether typical consumers are ready for a richer and more complex sensory profile than the neutral one historically found on the market, therefore the research group deepened the analysis of consumers’ preferences focused on sensory properties. The research efforts have been devoted to understanding the discrepancy existing between consumers’ preferences and experts’ evaluations that drive the recognition of quality far from the judgements of consumers.
Furthermore, some efforts have been devoted to specific case studies of innovative EVOOs, as the one extracted with ultrasounds. There are several factors that inhibit the introduction of EVOO innovations, the main obstacle seems to be its embedded tradition: tradition and innovation are almost opposite concepts, thus the introduction of innovation in Traditional Food Products (TFP) is more difficult compared to other agri-food products. At a general level, because TFPs are mainly appreciated by consumers for their naturalness and particular sensory properties, the innovation of TFPs may be accepted, if it does not harm the naturalness and does not change the sensory profile of the product. Therefore, innovations aimed at improving the healthiness and nutritional profile of TFPs are easily accepted by consumers, if they do not change the naturalness of the products. The studies conducted by the research group yielded possible positive acceptance for the ultrasounds extracted EVOO, and this ca be testified by the occurred adoption of the technology by an increasing number of Italian EVOO producers.
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- Project AGER COMPETiTiVE – Claims of Olive oil to iMProvE The markeT ValuE of the product funded by Fondazione Cariplo.
- Program STAR 2016 Linea 1 PI: Riccardo Vecchio – financially supported by University of Naples Federico II and Compagnia di San Paolo.
- Project “PERFORM TECH-PUGLIA EMERGING FOOD TECHNOLOGY”, grant no. LPIJ9P2.