Consumers’ preferences on Extra Virgin Olive Oil properties

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.

Selected publications
  • Lombardi, A., Carlucci, D., Cavallo, C., De Gennaro, B., Del Giudice, T., Giannoccaro, G., … & Cicia, G. (2021). Do consumers understand health claims on extra-virgin olive oil? Food Research International, 143, 110267. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodres.2021.110267
  • Di Vita, G., Cavallo, C., Del Giudice, T., Pergamo, R., Cicia, G., & D’Amico, M. (2021). Expanding the PGI certification scheme as a marketing tool in the olive oil industry: a perspective on consumer behavior. British Food Journal. Vol. 123 No. 12, pp. 3841-3856. DOI: 10.1108/BFJ-07-2020-0597
  • De Gennaro, B. C., Roselli, L., Bimbo, F., Carlucci, D., Cavallo, C., Cicia, G., … & Vecchio, R. (2021). Do Italian consumers value health claims on extra-virgin olive oil? Journal of Functional Foods, 81, 104461. DOI: 10.1016/j.jff.2021.104461
  • Cavallo, C., Carlucci, D., Carfora, V., Caso, D., Cicia, G., Clodoveo, M.L., Del Giudice, T., Di Monaco, R., Roselli, L., Vecchio, R., De Gennaro, B. (2020). Innovation in traditional foods: A laboratory experiment on consumers’ acceptance of extra-virgin olive oil extracted through ultrasounds. NJAS – Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences, 92, 100336. DOI: 10.1016/j.njas.2020.100336
  • Roselli, L., Cicia, G., Del Giudice, T., Cavallo, C., Vecchio, R., Carfora, V., Caso, D., Sardaro, R., Carlucci, D., De Gennaro, B. (2020). Testing consumers’ acceptance for an extra-virgin olive oil with a naturally increased content in polyphenols: The case of ultrasounds extraction Journal of Functional Foods, 69, 103940. DOI: 10.1016/j.jff.2020.103940
  • Cavallo, C., Cicia, G., Del Giudice, T., Sacchi, R., Vecchio, R. (2019). Consumers’ perceptions and preferences for bitterness in vegetable foods: The case of extra-virgin olive oil and brassicaceae—a narrative review. Nutrients, 11(5), 1164. DOI: 10.3390/nu11051164
  • Roselli, L., Cicia, G., Cavallo, C., Del Giudice, T., Carlucci, D., Clodoveo, M.L., De Gennaro, B.C. (2018). Consumers’ willingness to buy innovative traditional food products: The case of extra-virgin olive oil extracted by ultrasound. Food Research International, 108, 482-490. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodres.2018.03.070
  • Cavallo, C., Caracciolo, F., Cicia, G., Del Giudice, T. (2018). Extra-virgin olive oil: are consumers provided with the sensory quality they want? A hedonic price model with sensory attributes. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 98(4), 1591-1598. DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.8633
  • Cavallo, C., Piqueras-Fiszman, B. (2017). Visual elements of packaging shaping healthiness evaluations of consumers: The case of olive oil. Journal of Sensory Studies, 32(1), e12246. DOI: 10.1111/joss.12246
  • Del Giudice, T., Cavallo, C., Caracciolo, F., Cicia, G. (2015). What attributes of extra virgin olive oil are really important for consumers: a meta-analysis of consumers’ stated preferences. Agricultural and Food Economics, 3(1), 20. DOI: 10.1186/s40100-015-0034-5


  • 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.