The Idea - or trying to answer at a lot of questions!
As soon as we deal with the diversity and the different properties of the virgin olive oil, a lot of questions have to be answered. For instance:
- Why is an Oil especially liked?
- Why is an Oil liked by a certain group of consumers but not by another group?
- What are the criteria on which the consumers build their preference?
- Is it possible to identify a group of consumers with the same preference?
By searching answers we arrive quickly at a lot of “unknown” parameters. Our idea was to answer the open questions - such as ...better understand the reasons of refusal or acceptability of oils - by conducting an objective characterization of oils, interpreting the resulting data and making them transparent for the public.
But… what needs to be done?
First we need to have accurate pieces of information about the objective properties of the different olive oils on the market. To obtain these pieces of information, a detailed sensory analysis is needed, made by a trained sensory panel for olive oil. The trained panel gives an objective sensory profile for each olive oil.
In order to evaluate the overall liking of the olive oils, consumers have to be asked regarding their personal (subjective) opinion - whether they like or dislike the oil in question. The larger the number of consumers taking part in the survey, the more reliable are the resulting data.
To obtain a complete picture, the two sources of information (objective description of the specialized panel and consumers' appreciation statement) are put together. Interpretation of these results may reveal why one oil is preferred by one consumer group and rejected by another consumer group. Consumer groups can be described by their sensory preferences for olive oils and demographics.
Based on this technique the University of Applied Sciences Wädenswil found the International Olive Oil Award – Zurich to be an appropriate platform for the objective evaluation of virgin olive oils. Thanks to the well established partnership with “Salz & Pfeffer AG” subjective evaluations of olive oils take place at the Gourmesse Zürich.