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 by Veronica Foods Company (our importer) 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 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 under-appreciated 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.
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.
The current International Olive Oil Council Standards vs. Ultra Premium Standards are as follows:
Phenolic Content (Polyphenols): Phenols are healthful antioxidant 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. IOC Standard N/A vs UP Standard > 130.
Oleic Acid: The major fatty acid in olive oil making up 55 to 85% of olive oil. The higher the oleic acid monounsaturated fat content translates to increased durability and shelf-life. IOC Standard > 55 vs UP Standard > 65.
Free Fatty Acids (FFA): Formed due to breakdown of the triacylglycerols in oils during extraction. Fatty acids are "free" when they 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. IOC Standard < 0.8 vs UP Standard < 0.3.
Peroxide value: Peroxides are primary oxidation products that are formed when oils are exposed to oxygen causing defective flavors and odors. This is the primary measurement of rancidity in oil. Higher peroxide levels indicate oxidized and/or poor quality oil and give an idea of freshness and storage conditions of the oil. IOC Standard < 20 vs UP Standard < 9.
(Information provided by Veronica Foods Company, July 2013.)