Creative Packaging Helps Award-Winning Producer Sell More EVOO

At a recent fair, Brenda Wilkinson of Rio Largo Olive Estate realized some people bought her olive oil for the unique designs on her bag-in-box packages.

Brenda Wilkinson, co-owner of Rio Largo Olive Estate
By Lisa Anderson
Feb. 22, 2023 13:53 UTC
Brenda Wilkinson, co-owner of Rio Largo Olive Estate

A sur­pris­ing deci­sion over a decade ago has given the award-win­ning olive oils of one South African pro­ducer another level of noto­ri­ety.

Brenda Wilkinson, co-owner of Rio Largo Olive Estate, and her hus­band, Nick, recently real­ized that their 2011 deci­sion to sell foil-pack­aged extra vir­gin olive oil in card­board tubes had cre­ated a large mar­ket for their pack­ag­ing.

She told Olive Oil Times she wit­nessed the reac­tion to their card­board on-tap tube decanters at an arti­san mar­ket late last year.

The cus­tomers would come around the cor­ner and stand in awe,” she said. “[Our tube decanters are] so pretty, they could not help them­selves. They just wanted to buy on design alone, albeit the olive oil was of excep­tional award-win­ning qual­ity.”

See Also:Award-Winning Producer Sees a Bright Future for South African Olive Oils

But if I am hon­est,” Wilkinson added, they just wanted to walk away with the pretty designs. Not one design out­sold any other, as there is some­thing for every­one. It was fas­ci­nat­ing.”

Wilkinson said Rio Largo had cre­ated decanters with more than 56 designs. They also offer a per­son­al­ized gift range for cor­po­rate clients.

She said they won a pack­ag­ing award for their decanters at a recent com­pe­ti­tion in the United Arab Emirates. These decanters and their value are finally being rec­og­nized,” she said.

Wilkinson described cre­at­ing the designs for their decanters as a jour­ney. We cer­tainly pio­neered the bag-in-tube phe­nom­e­non,” she said.

She added that they had a fun label designed by a local artist Frans Groenewald, whose cre­ations are known for word­play.

Our first label was called Freedom of the Press,” Wilkinson said. We began a series of Groenewald’s designs such as Taste of Africa’ with Table Mountain in the back­ground, Bon Appetree and many oth­ers that brought a smile to every­one that saw them. That is what we wanted, to share the joy.”

Sadly, Frans suf­fered a stroke,” she added, and is no longer able to paint with such detail. After a won­der­ful birth­day cel­e­bra­tion sur­rounded by flow­ers, it was a spur-of-the-moment deci­sion to embrace a flo­ral theme, as we thought a gift of health in a flo­ral bou­quet’ would go down well.”

Wilkinson said their range of decanters with flo­ral designs took their busi­ness to another level.

The pro­duc­ers also released an edi­tion of decanters with rhino labels, of which a per­cent­age of the sales was pledged to sav­ing endan­gered rhi­nos.

She said their deci­sion in 2011 to use bag-in-box pack­ag­ing for their extra vir­gin olive oil was based on main­tain­ing the fresh­ness of their prod­uct.

Our slo­gan is try it, you’ll love it.’ And to ensure that our cus­tomers do indeed love that great taste, we needed to ensure that the qual­ity of the oil was main­tained upon pur­chase to the last drop,” she said.

Our oils are stored in stain­less steel tanks and only packed to order,” Wilkinson added. We like to think that we are shar­ing that same great taste in these lit­tle mini tanks,’ which are the bags we use to place in the outer decanters.”

Wilkinson explained that extra vir­gin olive oil dete­ri­o­rates dur­ing stor­age due to lipol­y­sis, which causes hydrolytic ran­cid­ity and affects the fla­vor of the oil.

A sec­ond process that causes a greater decline of qual­ity dur­ing stor­age is oxi­da­tion, which causes oxida­tive ran­cid­ity,” she said.

Wilkinson added that both processes result from oxy­gen com­ing into con­tact with the oil, under­scor­ing the impor­tance of pack­ag­ing oil in air­tight con­tain­ers.

She fur­ther explained that the tem­per­a­ture at which the oil is stored affects oxi­da­tion, and expo­sure to light makes the oil less sta­ble.

Wilkinson said researchers at the Andalusian Institute of Agricultural, Fisheries, Food and Organic Production Research and Training (IFAPA) found on-tap bag-in-box pack­ag­ing best pro­tects extra vir­gin olive oil from oxi­da­tion, com­pared to other types of pack­ag­ing.

Additionally, this option main­tains all qual­ity para­me­ters required for the extra vir­gin’ cat­e­gory for at least six months.

She con­cluded they are work­ing on another inno­v­a­tive idea to take their pack­ag­ing to the next level, but she is not divulging any­thing at this stage.


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