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Bertolli Riserva extra virgin olive oil

Bertolli is a brand of Italian food products. Originating as a brand of extra-virgin olive oil, in which it was the global market leader,[1] pasta sauces and ready meals are now sold under the brand name as well.[2][3]


In 1865 (154 years ago) (1865), the Bertolli company was founded by Francesco Bertolli and his wife, Caterina, in Lucca, Tuscany, Kingdom of Italy. They began by selling produce such as wine, cheese, olives, and olive oil.[4]

In 2008, the company was bought by Unilever, which then sold the olive oil business to Grupo SOS (currently Grupo Deoleo), Spain’s second-largest food group, for £500m as part of its disposal of non-core businesses. The transaction included the sale of the Italian Maya, Dante, and San Giorgio olive oil and seed oil businesses, as well as the factory at Inveruno, Province of Milan, Lombardy.[5]

In August 2012, the frozen foods business under the Bertolli brand name was sold by Unilever to ConAgra Foods.[6]

On 22 May 2014, Unilever agreed to sell its North American pasta sauce business under the Ragú and Bertolli brands to the Mizkan Group of Japan for US$2.15 billion,[3][7] while these brands are owned in the United Kingdom and Ireland by Symington's, a private label food manufacturer.[8]


The frozen meals sold by Bertolli are branded under "Meals for One", "Meals for Two" and "Dessert" categories.[9] Sales fell in the 2014 year for the frozen foods brands. ConAgra also focused in 2015 on growth in private-label products that retailers sell under their own brand.[10]

Bertolli's market share in pasta sauce in 2015 was 7.2% behind Ragu and Prego.[11]


Some controversy emerged in 2010 when Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil was identified as one of the olive oils mislabeled as extra virgin in a study by University of California, Davis.[12]

In 2018, parent company Deoleo agreed to pay a US$7 million settlement[13] to resolve a class action lawsuit which had alleged that the company had misrepresented Bertolli olive oil, and committed to undertake several actions to correct such misrepresentation.[14]

The suit had alleged that it was misleading for Bertolli to advertise its olive oil as being "Imported from Italy" when the oils actually came from olives grown and pressed in Greece, Chile, Spain, Australia, Turkey, and Tunisia, and had merely been mixed and bottled in Italy.[15]

Deoleo removed the phrase "Imported from Italy" from its products and committed not to use similar phrasing in the future unless the oil is derived entirely from olives grown and pressed in Italy.[14] Additionally, the suit alleged that the clear bottles used by Bertolli for its oil were inadequate to protect them from sunlight and temperature extremes, such that the olive oil would not meet the "extra virgin" quality standard by the time it reached consumers.[15]

As part of this settlement, Deoleo implemented several new practices to help ensure that its oil would meet the "extra virgin" standard at the time of sale and use:[14]

  • using dark green bottles to protect its extra virgin olive oil from photooxidation
  • implementing stricter testing protocols
  • disclosing the date on which the olives used to make the oil were harvested on the bottle
  • shortening “best by” period indicated on the bottle

On November 15, 2018, parent company Deoleo was granted an injunction against Natural Solutions Magazine, preventing the magazine from continuing false and misleading statements against Bertolli and one of Deoleo's other brands Carapelli.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Unilever enters olive oil market with clever packaging". Food Production Daily. 13 December 2004. Retrieved 2008-03-16.
  2. ^ "Bertolli Looks to Restore Luster to Olive Oil's Reputation". brandchannel:. 2017-05-19. Retrieved 2019-08-21.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  3. ^ a b Bray, Chad (22 May 2014). "Unilever to Sell Ragu and Bertolli Brands". The New York Times.
  4. ^ "Bertolli Olive Oil Brings 150 Years of Expertise". Bertolli. 2019-05-02. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  5. ^ "Unilever disposes Bertolli Olive Oil to Grupo SOS". Unilever. 21 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-28.
  6. ^ "ConAgra Foods Inc Completes Acquisition of Bertolli and P.F. Chang`s Frozen Meals Businesses from Unilever PLC". 30 July 2012. Retrieved 2014-10-25.
  7. ^ "Consumer goods major Unilever sells Ragu and Bertolli brands". Japan Herald. Archived from the original on 2014-05-23. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  8. ^ "Unilever sells Chicken Tonight and Ragu for £30m". Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-02-04.
  9. ^ "Frozen Meals". Retrieved 2015-07-23.
  10. ^ "UPDATE 2-ConAgra says recovery in private-label business to take longer". Reuters. 2014-12-18. Retrieved 2015-07-23.
  11. ^ "Ragu, Bertolli Make Agency Change Under New Ownership". Retrieved 2015-07-23.
  12. ^ "Tests indicate that imported "extra virgin"olive oil often fails international and USDA standards". Olive Center, University of California, Davis. July 2010. Archived from the original on 2017-09-26. Retrieved 2014-10-25.
  13. ^ a b Siegner, Cathy (November 28, 2018). "Olive oil producer claims victory in mislabeling and false claims lawsuits". Food Dive. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  14. ^ a b c Bucher, Anne (6 April 2018). "Bertolli Olive Oil Class Action Lawsuit Settled for $7M". Top Class Actions. Retrieved 2018-04-25.
  15. ^ a b Colman, Tracy (8 August 2017). "Deoleo Inc. Charged with Mislabeling Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil". Top Class Actions. Retrieved 2018-04-25.


External links[edit]