What is Ultra Premium?

Ultra Premium (UP) is a new category of olive oil that distinguishes the highest quality olive oil in the world. The UP standard was created in response to the growing need to separate high quality extra virgin olive oils from what dominates the so-called “gourmet” and “premium” olive oil markets, as well as the broader category sold in mass markets the world over under thousands of brands and private labels. The absurdly low standards created and fostered by numerous trade associations and government agencies responsible for policing them has only contributed to the confusion and misinformation. EU producers are actually given a perverse incentive in the form of government subsidies to keep their oils in storage until market conditions improve. This practice clearly demonstrates the governmental complicity with retailers and bottlers to sacrifice quality for price. Lack of enforcement and testing by these trade associations and governmental agencies has led to a marketplace dominated by inferior oils and rife with adulteration. These practices by some of the world’s largest olive oil producers and bottlers have led to a steep decline in prices of extra virgin olive oil and are driving quality oil producers out of business.

The self serving overemphasis on “Where” extra virgin olive oil is produced continues to dominate perceptions at the expense of the far more significant “When, What, and How” the oil is made. The UP standard has as its principal barometers Chemistry and Freshness. These two underappreciated variables can be objectively measured, quantified, and certified. Since the highest quality EVOO comes from high quality fruit coupled with high quality production processes, the UP standard encompasses strict requirements for both the end-product and the production process.

No matter how high the quality of fruit and production methods used, the best olive oils in the world are never as good as when they are fresh. There are no standards for shelf-life of EVOO, and the current IOC “best buy” date is intentionally misleading and utilized at the whim of the retailer and bottler. When a quality EVOO is fresh, there is significantly more positive sensory attributes detectable by the palate. As any EVOO ages, it naturally oxidizes losing positive sensory qualities as well as inheriting defects. Newly developed tests can objectively quantify the “Freshness” of an EVOO at various stages in its lifecycle and are referred to as the “Fresh Pack” tests encompassing both the Diacylglycerol Content (DAGS) and Pyropheophytins (PPP).

The UP standard is reserved for the finest extra virgin olive oils in the world, as such, the UP grade exceeds all existing European, Italian, Spanish, Greek, North American, Californian, or any other standard for the grade known as extra virgin olive oil. In order to qualify for the UP grade, the extra virgin olive oil must meet or exceed a comprehensive set of Production, Storage, Transportation, Testing, Chemistry, and Organoleptic requirements as set forth in the following document. Instead of placing an overemphasis on what is less important (Terroir) to the detriment of the most critical factors (Chemistry and Freshness), the UP program is intended to reward farmers for producing high quality oil. The UP program is intended to promote Fair Trade practices and help create a demand for a higher quality product thereby increasing the value.

How does the UP Program work? Candidate olive oils must provide a sample and agree to have the sample analyzed by an independent laboratory. The oils are tested to ensure that they meet or exceed the verifiable standards of the UP Program. Prior to purchasing an extra virgin olive oil for distribution, Veronica Foods Company requests a sample from the olive oil producer. The sample is sent to an independent lab where both a sensory and chemical analysis are performed to ensure that the oil meets or exceeds our exclusive UP® (Ultra-Premium) standard.

Do you test all brands? No. Only Extra Virgin Olive Oils being considered for the UP program and distribution by Veronica Foods are analyzed.

Does the fact that an olive oil does not have your seal mean that the olive oil is not authentic? No. The UP mark only identifies the highest quality extra virgin olive oils, distributed by Veronica Foods. Our goal is to identify the best olive oils on the market and ensure that they are offered for sale while they are fresh enough to have high levels of important nutrients. Even authentic olive oils may not qualify for the UP® mark.

The Ultra Premium Standard

The Ultra Premium (UP) Logo indicates that not only does the olive oil meet the current worldwide standards for Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but it also must pass a much more rigorous set of chemical, sensory, storage, production, and compliance requirements. These requirements have been developed into a Private Specification representing a compilation of industry standards, best practices, and proprietary methods for achieving the highest level of quality. This specification encompasses the entire life-cycle process of an olive oil from tree to table. Beginning with the farmer and ending with the sale of a bottle to a customer, the UP Specification defines the best practices which must be followed to obtain an olive oil worthy of the UP Standard…the new highest standard for olive oil in the world.

Production

To ensure the highest level of quality olive oil is achieved, the highest quality fruit must be grown and the highest quality production processes utilized throughout the milling facility from beginning to end. These production requirements are based on prior results and therefore represent a set of best practices and guidelines for the farmer. The proof of these processes should be, but is not always, evident in the sensory and chemical analyses of the resulting olive oil.

3.1 General

Oil must contain 100% of content from olives
Must be estate produced or have complete traceability of each cultivar
Must list all variety or varieties of olives
Must display “Harvest” or “Crush” date
Cannot be more than 14 months old from Harvest/Crush date

3.2 Farming

Sustainable farming practices must be employed

3.3 Harvesting

Harvest at the optimum moment for quality not yield (can vary with cultivar, conditions, location, and fruit maturity index)

3.4 Milling

Mechanical extraction using malaxer, centrifugation and decanter

Storage & Transportation

Although the UP production process ensures quality fruit and quality processes, the EVOO must also be protected from environmental damage during all phases of storage and transportation from tree to bottle. The Fusti and Bottle storage requirements listed below specifically apply to all retail stores offering products carrying the UP Logo Certification.

4.1 Tank Storage

Inert Gas (Argon or Nitrogen)-lined at farm mill
Naturally settled at farm or lightly filtered as to not impact flavor or chemistry
Impermeable, stainless steel

4.2 Bulk Containers

Air-tight seals
Temperature controlled

4.3 Fusti Storage

No mixing of EVOOs
Fusti cleaning schedule

4.4 Bottle Storage

Keep away from light and heat sources
Dark tinted glass bottles
Best when used within 4 months of first opening bottle

Testing & Compliance

To ensure the highest standards are consistently being met and maintained, a comprehensive testing and compliance program has been developed for UP. From mill to bottle, these testing and compliance procedures mandate traceability and accountability in order to deliver the high standard of UP quality to the end customer.

5.1 Test Frequency

Intial Sample testing must be collected from numbered lot bulk storage and sent to third party testing facility to ensure compliance
Random Samples will be purchased anonymously from UP supplied stores and sent to a third party testing facility

5.2 Testing Centers

All chemical testing and analyses must be performed at a third party certified laboratory
All UP olive oils must have a third-party Certificate of Authenticity (COA) on file with a certified laboratory

5.3 Test Procedures

Test samples must follow a complete chain of custody to ensure integrity)
UP supplied stores will be audited randomly for storage, cleaning, and labeling practices as defined in the supplier agreement

Third-Party Certified Laboratory used for UP Certification is Modern Olives

To achieve the highest standard in the olive oil industry, we use services of the most proficient olive oil lab by the American Oil Chemists Society standards.

Modern Olives Laboratory Services – Claudia Guillaume Attains First Place in AOCS (American Oil Chemists’ Society)

Modern Olives Laboratory Services-Claudia Guillaume has been awarded First Place in the “Analytical work for the Determination of Olive Oil Part B” by the AOCS (American Oil Chemists’ Society). The AOCS runs the world’s most extensive and respected collaborative proficiency testing program for oil and fat related commodities, oilseeds, oilseed meals, and edible fats. More than 500 chemists participate to verify their lab’s quality control.

Modern Olives Technical Director Leandro Ravetti comments “Receiving recognition for the accuracy of our laboratory proficiency program by the most prestigious oil society in the world and a highly independent body is a great honour for our lab and for Australia”. “It reinforces the fact that our scientists, knowledge and research in olive oil chemistry are of the highest standards”. “Furthermore, USA is Australia’s main export market for olive oil and having such recognition from an American body is a great boost in confidence for our laboratory and our customers in Australia that export their oils over there”.

Modern Olives is the leading advisory company to the Australian olive industry, covering all aspects related with project development, technical advice and applied research. This win acknowledges that Modern Olives is a state of the art laboratory, offering award winning technical advice to companies here in Australian and overseas.

Chemistry

Objective, verifiable chemical standards form the foundation of the UP grade. Chemical analysis of EVOO has proven to be a fundamental indicator of sensory quality, predictor of perishability, and authenticity of olive oils. UP is the highest quality standard in the world because it utilizes the broadest array of available tests and enforces the strictest limits on all chemical standards.

Chemical Parameters Determination Indicators Extra Virgin Standard UP Standard
6.1 Free Fatty Acids (FFA) Free Fatty Acids are formed due to breakdown of the triacylglycerols in oils during extraction. Fatty acids are “free” when the are no longer bound to any other molecules. An elevated level of FFA can indicate poor quality or mishandled fruit, too much time between harvesting and extraction, poor storage and/or high temperature during extraction. Units: % as oleic acid
IOC limit ≤ 0.8
Units: % as oleic acid
UP limit ≤ 0.3
6.2 Oleic Acid The major fatty acid in olive oil triacylglycerols is Oleic acid making up 55 to 85% of olive oil The higher the oleic acid monounsaturated fat content translates to increased durability and shelf-life. Units: % as oleic acid
IOC limit ≥55
Units: % as oleic acid
UP limit ≥ 65
6.3 Peroxide Value Peroxides are primary oxidation products that are formed when oils are exposed to oxygen causing defective flavors and odors Primary measurement of rancidity in oil. Higher peroxide levels indicate oxidized and/or poor quality oil & give an idea of the freshness & storage conditions. Units: mEQ O2/kg oil
IOC limit≤20
Units: mEQ O2/kg oil
UP limit ≤9
6.4 UV Absorption UV spectrophotometric determination Secondary measurement of rancidity in oil. Elevated levels of UV absorption indicate oxidized and/or poor quality oil, possible refining and/or adulteration with refined oil. Secondary measurement of rancidity in oil. Elevated levels of UV absorption indicate oxidized and/or poor quality oil, possible refining and/or adulteration with refined oil. Units: K1%/1cm
IOC limits
K232 ≤2.5, K270≤0.22, DeltaK≤0.01
Units: K1%/1cm
UP limits
K232 ≤2.0
K270 ≤0.20,
DeltaK ≤0.01

(immediately after production)
6.5 Phenolic Content (Polyphenols) Phenols are healthful anti-oxidant substances in olive oil which aid in slowing down the natural oxidative processes. Phenolic content decreases over time and is an indicator of freshness, with higher amounts improving shelf-life and oxidative stability. N/A Units: (as ppm caffeic acid)
UP minimum
limit ≥ 130
6.6 DAGs Fresh olive oil has a much higher proportion of 1,2-diacylglycerols to Total diacylglycerols while olive oil extracted from poor quality fruits and refined oils have a higher level of 1,3-diacylglycerols The ratio of 1,2-diacylglycerols to the Total diacylglycerols are a useful indicator of fruit quality and acts as a snapshot of olive oil freshness. Low values can also indicate oxidized oil & sensory defects. Units: %Total 1,2-diacylglycerols
AOA limit≥35
Units: %Total 1,2-diacylglycerols
UP limit ≥*90
(immediately after production)
6.7 PPP Upon thermal degradation of olive oil, chlorophyll pigments break down to pheophytins and then to pyropheophytins The ratio of pyropheophytins to the total pheophytins is useful for distinguishing fresh olive oil from soft column refined, deodorized, or backblended oils. Units: %Total Pheophytins
AOA limit≤17
Units: %Total Pheophytins
UP limit ≤5
(immediately after production)
*IOC= International Olive Council, AOA= Australian Olive Association

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