Specialty Food Magazine

Summer 2019

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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oil, and we just brought in an olive oil from Australia that people are really loving," she says. "Country of origin is still important, but now people are more open to different countries and different areas." Promoting Olive Oil Sara Baer-Sinnott, president of Oldways, a nonprofit food and nutrition organiza- tion that, among other efforts, promotes the Mediterranean Diet, says consumer interest in healthful eating has opened up the door for retailers to tie olive oil into interest in that dietary regimen. She suggests retailers conduct Mediterranean Diet store tours and mer- chandise Mediterranean Diet cookbooks, for example. Another idea is to promote olive oils by country of origin, showcasing foods from Spain along with Spanish olive oils, for example, she says. Despite the rising price points for olive oils, retailers also have an opportunity to communicate the value of the product rela- tive to other items in which consumers regu- larly indulge, according to Baer-Sinnott. "People complain about the price of good olive oil, but a bottle of wine goes away in a night," she says. "Even if you only spend $10 on a bottle of wine, then in two nights you've spent $20 on wine, but a $20 bottle of olive oil will give you pleasure for certainly more than two nights." She also suggests that retailers can stress the importance of having two variet- ies of olive oil, one for everyday cooking and another for finishing. When it comes to merchandising, Russo-Tiesi of Bono USA also suggested that retailers move olive oil to high-visibil- ity positions such as endcaps, and conduct in-store tastings to increase visibility and awareness. "The thing that I like most is when a retailer pulls the olive oil off the middle of a shelf and out of the middle of the aisle," he says. "I think it helps when they set up endcaps that include educational materials, Importance of Freshness Among the basic qualities that retailers can help their consumers understand is the importance of freshness, says Greenberg of FoodMatch. Olives are a fruit, and olive oil is essen- tially pressed fruit juice, he explains, and it is meant to be consumed as fresh as pos- sible—not more than 18-24 months after it has been processed. The harvest in the Northern Hemisphere begins in the fall, and in general, the earlier the olives are har- vested, the better. The highest quality, extra virgin olive oils are cold-pressed from the earliest har- vest, without the use of heat, which can decrease both the f lavor and the healthful properties of the oil. Olive oil that does not meet the f lavor and other standards of EVOO can be refined and used to make regular or other lesser grades of olive oil, which are more suitable for use in cooking. Although heating the olives and using olives that have ripened for a longer period of time increases the yield of oil that they generate, the oil is considered inferior to oil that is made from green, cold-pressed olives. In addition, various factors can impact the shelf life of olive oil once it has been bottled—especially exposure to heat, air, and light, which is why olive oil is usually packaged in tins or in dark glass bottles. Like many specialty olive oil distribu- tors, FoodMatch focuses on sourcing olives from a single region. Its Renieris Estate extra virgin olive oil features olives that are grown, crushed, and bottled by the Renieris family in Chania on the Greek island of Crete. "It's a fourth-generation, family-run business, and the mill is on-site, so it's fully integrated," says Greenberg. Renieris Estate uses olives of the Koroneiki cultivar, which is known for pro- ducing olive oils and has been grown in Greece for thousands of years. In order to highlight these attributes, the Renieris Estate oil includes labeling specifying its place of origin and its estate- bottled status. Russo-Tiesi of Bono USA says that retailers and consumers should also be looking for olive oils that have Protected Designation of Origin or Protected Geographic Indication certification, two European seals that are verified by third parties to prove the origin claims of olive oil and other agricultural products. "If you really want the best, highest quality, most authentic product, you need to purchase a PDO or PGI product, and they are very easy to find on the shelf because they have a very unique logo on the label," he says. While those designations apply to European olive oils, other regions, including California, Australia, and South America, also produce olive oils that have gained some international acclaim. Rachel Shemirani, vice president of marketing at Barons Market, a seven-store retailer based in Poway, Calif., says the chain has seen an increased interest from its customers in California olive oils, among others. "It really used to be all about Italian or Greek olive oils, but now we're get- ting more requests for California olive 100 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com category education

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