Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is one of the most popular products in Mediterranean diet. Spain produces about 52% of olive oil with the presence of larger firms; Italy follows with a share of 9% and a production structure characterized instead by small family businesses. A social analysis, based on a multiple-questionnaire, has analyzed the perspectives of 500 consumers conferring their olives to a family-owned olive oil mills (OOMs). This work aims to assess the role of family business evaluating the opportunities associated with the development of circular economy (CE) models. Results show that Italian consumers’ preferences give attention to the use of natural resource and the olive oil is perceived as a natural product. In addition, family owned-OOMs provide a great sense of trust and the relevant role of family within the entire life cycle of olive oil is demonstrated. OOMs that work for residential market are strongly preferred to industrial ones being able to manage single lots of olives belonging to the same customers’ land. The recovery of some by-products represents an opportunity for OOMs and policy support is required to favor the needed generational change, whose absence is perceived as a serious obstacle to the future development of the sector along circularity principles.
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