The French finance ministry investigation unit has just published the final report on its investigation into French-produced olive oil.

The Direction Générale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Répression des Fraudes (DGCCRF) launched its enquiries last year, resulting in two court cases and a number of serious warnings.

DGCCRF has a rolling programme of investigations like this. The main focus is generally products with a significant proportion of quality marks such as AOC.

After heavy tree planting programmes in recent years, French olive oil production has nearly doubled to around 5,000 tonnes, but it remains a niche market. It accounts for about 2% of the market by volume, primarily luxury products.

Prices have risen steeply, making top-end French AOC olive oils retail at upwards of EUR 30 a litre. The DGCCRF made 220 visits, with a 56% first-time pass rate.

Serious problems included the presence of refined oils (up to 50% sunflower oil in one case); falsified statement of origins and incorrectly identified olive varieties.

In all, 11 reminders and six follow-ups were issued, while the agency also pursued two criminal cases, one of which resulted in a EUR 5,000 fine for the wholesaler concerned.