Most importantly this oil tastes good. Fresh and with interesting ‘green’ and peppery qualities to give it character. The bottles come in three varieties labelled Robust, Fruity and Delicate. The bulk container is Frantoio labelled ‘Fresh and Fruity’ and the tin I’m using now, won a Bronze award at the 2009 Olive Oil Association Show.
It’s Australian oil from Australian grown olives. (Aldi also sell an imported oil so make sure you read the label.)
It’s exceptional value, the 500ml bottles are $5.50, the 3 litre tin was $20. (Which of course makes me concerned that the producer gets a fair price for their work) however it is a blended oil with no regional appellation and that’s cheaper to produce in bulk.
And Aldi is the only supermarket to have signed the Australian Olive Oil Association’s industry Code of Practice. That puts requirements on the producer to ensure freshness (the useby date that is no more than two years from bottling) and that if it says it’s Extra Virgin oil, it really is.
In 2010 the Aldi oils became the first olive oils to be certified by the Carbon Trust UK and the first product in Australia to carry Planet Ark’s Carbon Reduction Label. That involves a resonsibility to work to reduce the product’s carbon footprint and is reviewed every two years
(Oh, and they’ve just won the award for Product of the Year in the Cooking Ingredient category in the 2011 Product of the Year Survey of Innovation but we won’t mention that – *see below)
Ok, we spend a goodly amount of time bemoaning the stranglehold and bad practices of Coles and Woolworths Supermarkets and what their market domination means to the small producers we talk to who are supplying them. So this Aldi olive oil story is an alternative and a real reason to be cheerful.
We buy and use a lot of olive oil at our place, there’s always a large tin or two in the pantry, and then the cupboard has smaller bottles for tasting the wide variety from the producers and markets we visit as we travel. It’s like drinking wine to me, there’s so may varieties and wine makers I’ve yet to try, I used to say, ‘life’s too short to drink the same wine twice’ (within reason of course, I reckon about a dozen bottles will allow you to assess the taste. Then if you really like it…) but with olive oil I make some exceptions because using it in cooking requires quantity.
When money is tight, the price of local oil becomes an issue, so even when I try to support our Canberra region local olive growers, I sometimes buy from the supermarket or the greengrocer. For years now, we’ve resolved to never buy imported oil, so that means we often end up with a bulk blend from somewhere like the Riverina or WA.
I’ve never shopped much at Aldi, I’m a fresh food at the Markets and Brands-I-Know at the supermarket kind of shopper, but the Aldi feel good Olive Oil initiatives and corporate responsibility are reason enough to return.
*The 2011 Product of the Year Survey of Innovation and the resulting Awards is a bit like the industry patting it’s own back. It is run by market research company TNS, part of the WPP global group of advertising agencies, pr and marketing businesses. Companies submit their products (for free) and TNS submit them to “a Jury panel of industry experts and members of the media who make sure the submissions meet innovation criteria”, if they become a ‘finalist’ then they pay ($17k.) to have TNS research what 5000 consumers consider the most innovative of their category. If ‘lucky you’ tops the list, then you pay ($50k.) for the honour, and get to use the logo for a year. There would obviously be some advantage in being recognised as a winning product and you do get to go to a glossy awards presentation night with other innovative winners like Pedigree dog chews and Air Wick. It’s biggest advantage is maybe that it brings products to the media’s attention, everyone likes a winner.
As you see, I reckon there are better reasons to suggest you should try the Aldi product.