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Sp-oiled for choice

Bottles of olive oil

Supermarket shelves are lined with dozens of different oils, making decision-making tricky. If you’re after extra virgin olive oil, we’ve got some bargain-hunting tips to make choosing easier.

When shopping for oil, you might just feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice available to you. Sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, coconut oil, several different types of olive oil (including some that are sold in spray cans)… The list goes on.

I’m personally a fan of rapeseed oil for cooking, and extra virgin olive oil for making something like a salad dressing (on the relatively rare occasion I’ll opt for a salad over a burger). I guess this is probably more out of habit than anything else – any recommendations, anyone?

We’ve just enlisted an expert panel to test some premium versions of extra virgin olive oil you can buy in supermarkets, and we were surprised by some of our findings. The experts also helped us discover more about the fascinating world of extra virgin olive oil, like how it takes about 5kg of olives to produce one litre.

Oils on offer

My name is Oli, I’m 23 years old, and I’m a committed bargain-chaser. Should you ever have the veritable pleasure of spotting me in a cereal aisle in the supermarket, you’ll find me scouring the shelves for an offer, or closely examining unit prices like a dog would a tennis ball.

I’m the same with oil, too. I’ve found that extra virgin olive oil is on offer so often that I instinctively turn my nose up at the idea of paying full price.

We tracked the supermarket prices of Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Napolina Extra Virgin Olive Oil from 13 April 2015 to 12 April 2016, using the independent price-tracking site, mysupermarket.co.uk, and found that you shouldn’t have to spend much more than £3 for 500ml for either.

Asda was the best place to buy Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil (500ml), with the cheapest average price of £3.04 – plus it was on sale for 25 weeks for £3 or less, and for 13 of these you could buy it for just £2.

Sainsbury’s had the lowest average price for Napolina Extra Virgin Olive oil (500ml) of £3.07, and you could get it for £3 or less for 24 weeks of the year. At Morrisons it was typically £3.18, but for £3 or less for 23 weeks – and for seven of these weeks it was available for £2.

Extraordinary uses for extra virgin olive oil

We asked Which? members what they used extra virgin olive oil for, and were largely unsurprised to find that many use it for cooking, or as a salad dressing or dip.

I’d never used extra virgin olive oil for anything other than a culinary purpose, so I was amazed to hear of a wide range other uses. I’m yet to use it as a method of removing ear wax, and I’ll likely never use it as a beauty product, but it was fascinating to think of it as such a versatile substance.

If you use extra virgin olive oil for anything other than for food, I’m intrigued to hear about it – let me know below.

You can see the results of our olive oil taste test and investigation in the July issue of Which? magazine.

Mike Giles says:
29 August 2016

Having read the recent article entitled Premium Olive Oil I am appalled at the fact that the author/Which Magazine have only reviewed Italian Olive Oils, thereby misleading the reading members. Just in case it had passed the author by the largest exporter of Olive Oil is in fact an obviously relatively unknown country called Spain, who also happen to produce high quality cava (not prosecco). Too much in vogue testing is a good way to be accused of less than impartial reviews.