Each year, Bertolli tastes olive oils from around the world—nearly 20,000 samples, to be exact! Of those samples, only around 20 percent make the cut to become the delicious olive oil in your Bertolli bottle, thanks to rigorous chemical, taste and quality standards. Why such strict regulations? Because Bertolli is unabashedly obsessed with creating excellent olive oils
“Quality of our olive oil is very, very important,” explains Paula Lopes, Global Quality Director, Product Development and Regulatory Director at Deoleo/Bertolli. “We pay our farmers to crop earlier to guarantee the best raw materials. We spend time with the farmers, visiting the fields, the orchards, helping them achieve the quality we’re aiming for.”
Harvesting olives earlier than usual is a big part of the Bertolli difference. Typically, farmers will leave olives on the tree until they’re nearly black so the oil yield will be higher (the riper the fruit, the more oil extracted). While oil made from those olives is still sweet, it lacks the other defining characteristics found in first-rate olive oils—like bitterness, a fruity flavor and smell—and it’ll be lower in antioxidants and polyphenols.
Throughout the year, the Bertolli team makes multiple field visits to growers around the globe, working with farmers to determine a harvest date that yields the best olives.
“By paying a premium for the best oils, we’re incentivizing the mills to work in perfect conditions,” says Lopes. “This prevents the olives from becoming completely black and helps guarantee a high-quality product.”
Of course, encouraging farmers to invest in more-sustainable growing practices means those suppliers will become more expensive to work with than less-vigilant producers. Additionally, Bertolli requires farmers to harvest early to ensure quality raw materials—and this incurs extra cost as well. For buyers perusing oils in the supermarket aisle, the price difference between Bertolli and other brands tells an important truth: You get what you pay for. And with Bertolli, that’s exceptional extra virgin olive oil.