We found an enquiry from this week particularly interesting because it had to do with the application of olive oil as a manufacturing ingredient rather than as a food ingredient. Included below in this blog entry is an outline of the various olive oil grades and acidity ratios which proved to be helpful as we advised the company on the best-fit olive oil for their soap making business.
An American all-natural soap maker from the east coast contacted us in their search for better sourcing of their olive oil, which is a key ingredient for their product. The company is looking for a more efficient sourcing of olive oil now that they have storage space available onsite.
With onsite storage the company can now purchase larger volumes and achieve better pricing via direct sourcing rather than the retail/wholesale outlet they are currently using. As well, they will further benefit from having their pallets delivered directly to their facilities saving on man hours and “buying runs” to get their olive oil.
Up until now this soap making company has been sourcing their oil from a local Greek market and purchasing hundreds of gallon containers by the case per month. I can just imagine the operations director’s station wagon filled to the gills with olive oil containers from the local market.
What is interesting here is that the Soap Maker may have been purchasing a less than ideal grade of olive oil in terms of acidity and cost because they were purchasing from a Mediterranean food market and not directly from an olive oil provider.
Here is a chart of olive oil grades, with the most expensive at top / least expensive at bottom:
1. [EVOO] Premium extra-virgin olive oil (as low as 0.225% acidity)
2. [EVOO] Extra-virgin olive oil (up to 0.8% acidity)
3. Fine virgin olive oil (up to 1.5% acidity)
4. [Regular] Virgin olive oil (up to 2.0% acidity)
5. [Regular] Semi fine virgin olive oil (up to 3.3% acidity)
6. Lampant olive oil (greater than 3.3% acidity – for industrial use / not edible)
Higher acidity is usually sought for in the production of soap, and many soap makers actually opt for Lampant Olive Oil, which is at least one grade lower than what this soap manufacturer has been purchasing at their local market. Lampant oil cannot be used as a food ingredient, but it has acidity greater than 3.3% and comes in at a better price than Regular Virgin olive oil.
QUESTION: If you were the olive oil buyer for this soap company, which olive oil grade would you choose? (There is more than one correct answer)
ANSWER: In this case, the Soap Maker has asked us to quote them two options for them to consider – one option being Regular virgin olive oil and the other option being Lampant olive oil. Their decision will come down to two factors: the relative difference in price (aka cost saving) versus the greater marketing appeal of using Virgin olive oil within their ingredients.