Pompeian Olive Oil is widely available and ultra affordable. But how does it stack up to our expert panel of taste testers? Here are the somewhat underwhelming results.
One of the most ubiquitous brands of olive oil lining grocery store shelves in the U.S. is Pompeian — it’s available everywhere from Walmart and Target to Kroger and Meijer. You can spot it by its tinted green plastic bottles and red and yellow logo, which is often accompanied by images of rolling fields of olive trees or fresh olives on the label. Typically, it’s situated next to other big brands like Bertolli, Colavita, and California Olive Ranch.
There’s nothing fancy or artisanal about Pompeian olive oil, but it does offer consumers a chance to get their hands on extra virgin olive oil at a very reasonable price point — typically around $0.35 per ounce, while some olive oil producers charge upwards of $2-3 per ounce (the Instagram-famous Brightland Olive Oil, for example, gets around $37 per bottle).
Of course, we all know that price doesn’t always equal quality. But what do you actually get for that extremely reasonable price? Below, we briefly explore the Pompeian’s history and quality standards, then dive into what’s most important — how it tastes!
About Pompeian Olive Oil: A Century-Old Company With Seemingly High Standards
After doing some research into Pompeian as a company, signs seem promising. They’ve been around for over 100 years — the company was founded in 1906 and started off producing olive oil in Italy to export to the United States, where it helped satisfy the tastes of the growing Mediterranean community. And today, the company works with a co-op of family farmers from around the world (including Morocco, Spain, Italy, Chile, Argentina, Greece, Turkey, Uruguay, Tunisia, and California) and prides itself on being 100% farmer-owned.
As far as quality control goes: The company conducts daily internal tests that exceed international standards in their Pompeian Quality Control and Research & Development Center, which opened in 2017. Several Pompeian olive oils also carry the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) Certified Quality Seal, which independently tests olive oils for adherence to the physico-chemical standards set by the International Olive Council (IOC) for purity and quality.
How Does Pompeian Olive Oil Taste?
Earlier this year, the Tasting Team at OliveOil.com reviewed three varieties of Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Walmart, all of which came in green-hued plastic bottles:
- Pompeian Organic Robust Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Pompeian Robust Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Pompeian Smooth Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Even though a number of Pompeian olive oils carry the NAOOA Certified Quality Seal (as mentioned above), our tasters found that these particular oils fell flat. All carried a ripe or overly ripe flavor with minimal nuance — and one variety even appeared to be rancid.
Pompeian Organic Robust (473mL)
Argentina, Spain, Tunisia
Most ripe olive, buttery and nutty flavors with some hints of leafy greens. Overripe fruit aromas. Tired, flat, better for cooking.
Dark plastic bottle
Pompeian Robust (473mL)
Spain, Greece, Tunisia, Turkey
Strong aroma of overripe fruit. Some users might be okay with it in raw applications but better suited to cooking.
Dark plastic bottle
Pompeian Smooth (473mL)
Spain, Greece, Morocco, Tunisia
Oxidized, rancid, fermentation. Not recommended.
Dark plastic bottle
Bottom Line On Pompeian Olive Oil
Overall, these Pompeian olive oils underwhelmed our Tasting Team. We can’t say for sure if these results are typical of all Pompeian olive oils or an anomaly. Factors such as how long these olive oils were sitting on store shelves and what conditions were like during transport may have affected flavor as well, since it’s well known that exposure to higher temperatures and light can degrade aromatic and flavor compounds within the oil.
Keep in mind, though, your idea of the perfect olive oil may differ from our expert panel’s — so if you’re still curious about Pompeian olive oil, feel free to give it a try (the price is right, after all). Better yet, grab a few enticing bottles from your local supermarket, along with a few of your friends, and do an olive oil taste test to find your ideal pick.