Olive oil price comparison: here's how much you can save depending on where you shop

Olive oil price comparison: here's how much you can save depending on where you shop

The same bottle varies by up to three euros in the large supermarket chains, although stores' own brands are similar

Ángel Gallardo


Monday, 18 September 2023, 13:59


If there is one food product that has dented the pockets of consumers in Spain this summer, it is olive oil. Although inflation is becoming more moderate with respect to last year's levels, this household shopping basket staple has seen an unprecedented price rise over the last few months. So much so that, according to the latest CPI data published by the National Statistics Institute (INE), in August it cost 52.5% more than during the same month in 2022. This is the highest year-on-year increase in 21 years.

In this context, is it worth comparing the price of oils on sale at different supermarkets or are they all equally expensive? According to fieldwork carried out by SUR last week, the same one-litre bottle of Coosur Virgen extra hojiblanca costs 8.69 euros in Lidl and 11.99 euros in Día. A difference of 3.30 euros for the same product. The same is true of the same brand's Virgen Serie Oro oil: 8.75 in Maskom and 11.25 in Carrefour, 2.50 euros more expensive than in the former.

According to the Spanish ministry of agriculture, fisheries and food's 2022 report, a person in Spain consumes on average 3.6 litres of olive oil, 0.7 litres of virgin olive oil and 3 litres of extra virgin olive oil per year. Therefore, by buying the same one-litre bottles of each category (Coosur Virgen extra hojiblanca, Coosur Virgen Serie Oro and Carbonell 0.4º), an average consumer can save up to 24 euros a year depending on which supermarket they choose.

Based on the results obtained, we found that Maskom and Lidl are the cheapest options for buying name-branded olive oil compared to Carrefour or Aldi. Mercadona cannot be compared here, as it only sells Hacendado oil, its own brand.

In short, there can be a considerable difference in price depending on where the purchase is made. However, in the case of stores' own brands such as Hacendado (Mercadona), Olisone (Lidl) and Alteza (Maskom), the prices are practically identical: 6.80 euros for refined oil, 7.70 euros for virgin oil and 8.50 euros for extra virgin oil. Moreover, in most supermarkets it is the case that own-brand extra virgin olive oil costs less than refined olive oil of almost any manfacturer's name brand.

According to the president of farmers association ASAJA in Malaga, Baldomero Bellido, this difference in price is not necessarily due to a difference in quality between the stores' own brand and the manufacturer's name brand.

"An extra virgin, whatever brand it is, cannot have any defects," he explained.

"The only thing that can change are the organoleptic characteristics of each oil," in other words, the properties that determine the aroma or flavour of the product.

Leo Rama is the producer of Oro en Rama, an oil that he manages with his father and which was awarded the best oil in the 2021 Mezquita Awards. He also agrees that, when it comes to buying, the brand name is not the best indicator for choosing a product.

"We know that often store brand oils are from small producers who take them to a cooperative," he said. According to Rama it is more important to pay attention to other aspects, such as the denomination or the variety of olives used. "An arbequina is not the same as a picual," he stated.

Why then are store-brand oils considerably cheaper? Esteban Carneros, spokesman for cooperative Dcoop, explained that the disparity may be due to a different time of purchase of the raw material or to a sales strategy on the part of the companies. "A chain can reduce margins and earn nothing from the oil, but use it to attract [customers]," he explained.

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