It pays to check

May 10, 2009

For a fair while now my spread of choice has been Olivani. It’s a good product, is reliably on the shelf at the supermarket, and always seemed reasonably priced compared to petro-chemical random-oil-based alternative like margarine. The main reason for eating it though is the lack of dairy.

Dairy being evil and all.

Ok, I admit that I’m a teeny bit lactose intolerant. But not enough to complain about. The main reason is to keep healthy. Why eat fats when you can eat oils?

Consequently I have to come clean and admit to performing the slavish behaviour I’m quick to criticise others for, and just buying a product because I’m in the habit. Now, not only is this bad, it’s downright stupid.

You can imagine my chagrin to discover yesterday that there is in fact a competitor on the shelf, and it is called Olivite. And… that it’s $2 cheaper for the same weight.

My name is Che, and I am a bad and stupid slavish consumer.



  1. If you were still buying Olivani or go back to it for any reason, this is something I only noticed recently so maybe others haven’t: there is a 1kg container that sits on the top shelf, hard to spot (at NW Chaffers at least) that is normally around $2 cheaper than two 500g containers. I wonder how many two dollarses I could have saved over the years I’ve been buying that product.

  2. Petro-chemical based?

  3. Trans-fatty acids? They’re the ones to watch out for, and it could be that the cheaper version is much higher in them.

    Or this could just be a standard consumer rip-off. We buy “Olivani” here; I will have to check to see if there is a cheaper version next time I’m at the supermarket.

  4. Er yeah, I’m pretty sure even the most noxious margarine is made from vegetable oil. (In the oooold days, tallow even. But not crude oil).

  5. fingers got carried away. i googled the petro-chemicals thing and it was obviously fed to me when i was young and sans-interwebs.

    @deborah we eat such a small quantity of spread that it’s not such a hassle. plus… i’m sceptical about all the heart-disease “good vs. bad” oil debate. it’s constantly shifting depending on who’s paying for the research. a better rule of thumb is “all oils and fats should be eaten in moderation”.

  6. @deborah the trans fatty thing is less of an issue nowadays as the manufacturers moved quickly to reduce the amount of trans fats in their products when the health risks became known (btw if you weren’t already aware the trans fats are a by-product of the hydrogenation process that helps make marg and other vege oil based spreads solid at room and fridge temps – so all spreads incl olivani et al have some of them).

    I always refer to the handy nutritional information panel on the bottom of the package before purchase – they all state the amount of trans fats so you can make the decision at the chiller.

    @ Che olivani et al are made by the same process as other vegetable oil based spreads the only diff being the use of ‘heart-healthy’ olive oil :). There is quite a large body of reliable research out there that has demonstrated the role of saturated fats in raising blood cholesterol, and poly and mono-unsaturated fats (which predominate in most vegetable oils – coconut and palm oil being the exceptions) not raising it, and even reducing it in some situations. Spreads such as pro-activ with added sterols even more so (but interestingly only have a significant effect if you already have high cholesterol). Some of the other spreads available have higher levels of Omega 6 fats which are a bonus too.

    I would be inclined to agree with deborah for the most part re the marketing aspect of olive oil spreads EXCEPT i have noticed there is another important difference between them and other spreads – sodium content. All the olivani spreads have around 360-380mg per 100g /(18mg per serve) sodium which is equiv to the salt content of my salt reduced Flora. As you’re well aware, reducing salt consumption (and increasing potassium via the consumption of lots of lovely fresh vege and fruits) is important to reduce heart disease risk. Reducing the amount we eat in processed foods is most important (as iodised table salt is a VERY important source of iodine in our diets) as it constitutes around 85% of the sodium in our diets.

    Me – my budget is such at present (increasing size of mortgage due to moving to larger premises as per our recent addition to the family – though house prices in Dunedin… :0) – Che – if you’re thinking of buying…) that i tend to buy whatever is on special – if that happens to be Olivio or Olivani, then so be it, but I’m equally happy with the Flora if that’s what is cheapest. I must do the sums re the large 1kg packs though. Our local NW hides them well. On that subject, what’s up with 800g tins of Budget tomatoes being more expensive than 2 400g tins, ay?

  7. “i googled the petro-chemicals thing and it was obviously fed to me when i was young”

    That’s right folks, if you want your kids to be looming giants with PhDs, feed ’em Stony Oil’s Petroleum Spread!

    • heh. i think the non-edumacated rellies confused the process of hydrogenisation with hydrocarbons…

  8. Actually, now that I think about it, we usually buy the Olivite too.

    Another thing to watch out for is water content. Reduced-fat = more water whipped into it.

  9. I think my mum used to just stick olive oil in the fridge to make it solidify. Can’t swear to it but I’ve got vague memories. Dunno if it would be cheaper but you’d know for sure whether it was heart healthy and it would have zero water and salt.

  10. Another thing to watch out for is water content. Reduced-fat = more water whipped into it.

    You can feel the water in a lot of “margarine”. Mrs Skin might have the right idea.

    And off topic, but I made hummous last night. Healthy, delicious and cheap. Thanks to Deborah for the inspiration.

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