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Thousands Visit Alimentaria’s Olive Oil Bar

Apr. 16, 2014
Julie Butler

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More than 140,000 peo­ple – a third of them from beyond Spain – vis­ited the Alimentaria food and drink trade fair in Barcelona and orga­niz­ers say more than 5,000 of them tried olive oils in the olive oil tast­ing bar.

Held March 31 to April 3 and billed as four­teen shows in one bien­nial fair, Alimentaria’s orga­niz­ers say it attracted more than 600 buy­ers from coun­tries in Asia, Europe, the United States and Latin America.

Slick Spanish Merchandising Stood Out

Juan A. Peñamil Alba, who attends olive oil events and food fairs around the world in his role as CEO and edi­tor of Spanish pub­lisher Mercacei, said Alimentaria stood out for the fact its vis­i­tors were largely food sec­tor-linked pro­fes­sion­als and the pres­ence of more than 140 olive oil brands, most of whom I’ve talked to and are very sat­is­fied with the con­tacts they’ve made here.” Peñamil said he was also struck by the high qual­ity of olive oil pre­sen­ta­tion and pack­ag­ing, which had made great strides in Spain in the last few years and is now at an opti­mum level.”

Diversification also good for trade

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Paloma Oliva García of La Chinata

Paloma Oliva García of La Chinata, from Spain’s Extremadura region, said the olive oil com­pany was very pleased with the num­ber and range of con­tacts made, which included rep­re­sen­ta­tives of exporters, restau­rants and spe­cialty shops. Oliva said many of the vis­i­tors to the company’s stand in the Olivaria salon were seek­ing inno­v­a­tive and eye-catch­ing prod­ucts. Those from the restau­rant sec­tor were very inter­ested in non refill­able bot­tles and in La Chinata’s cos­metic and gourmet food lines, its olive oil soap, sea­son­ings such as flor de sal, and purées and pael­las made with extra vir­gin olive oil, also attracted atten­tion, she said.

Dramatic design pay­ing off

It’s my first time here and I’ve found it very pos­i­tive because in four days we’ve met a wide range of not only poten­tial clients but also sup­pli­ers, such as of bot­tles and pack­ag­ing,” said Rosa Martínez, from Hacienda el Palo extra vir­gin olive oils. Martínez said exporters and buy­ers for spe­cialty shops showed an inter­est in learn­ing about the olive vari­eties in the two prod­ucts the com­pany was pre­sent­ing, and the dif­fer­ences between them. Its high end Picual prod­uct Bravoleum – among this year’s spe­cial selec­tion by the provin­cial coun­cil of Jaén – gen­er­ated intense inter­est because of its vio­let bot­tle. The strik­ing new design, on sale since December and partly inspired by the Jaén province flag, cost 20 – 30 per­cent more than a con­ven­tional bot­tle but had been well worth it, Martínez said.

Rosa Martínez, rep­re­sent­ing Hacienda el Palo extra vir­gin olive oils

Gift seg­ment shows strong inter­est

Olive oils were also pre­sented in other halls of the fair, such as in the area group­ing prod­ucts from the var­i­ous Spanish regions. Among them was Valencia’s Señorios de Relleu coupage extra vir­gin olive oil — fea­tur­ing a brightly-designed alu­minium bot­tle and also avail­able in a new gift pack with the ancient fer­mented fish sauce garum — which drew keen inter­est both from buy­ers look­ing for attrac­tive value-added gift prod­ucts and those from gourmet stores, the restau­rant sec­tor and retail chains, accord­ing to mar­ket­ing man­ager Eduardo Palacio Oñate.

Image also a draw­card at tast­ing bar

Several of those among the steady flow of peo­ple at the Olive Oil Bar admit­ted the image con­veyed by bot­tles played a big role in help­ing them choose which of the 105 extra vir­gin olive oils from around Spain to try. Antonia, who had come over from the Bodegas Torres stand in the nearby wine sec­tion, said she had tasted only three olive oils, because I’ve just had lunch”, and had cho­sen them based on the bot­tle image and if they had a strong olive aroma.”

Marta from Salamanca, said she had tasted about ten of the oils, mainly of her favorite vari­ety, Arbequina, and taken pho­tos of the ones she liked most, though she said they might be hard to find in the super­mar­kets where she usu­ally buys olive oil. She likes oils that taste very fresh and deliver a throat burn, but only a lit­tle one.”

Jordi from Girona, who had just tried a mar­vel­lous, very intense” olive oil of the Changlot Real vari­ety, wel­comed the oppor­tu­nity to try oils of a big range of vari­eties and regions. He likes to read the short descrip­tion of each oil first and then pro­ceed to smelling them if his inter­est is piqued – his cat­a­logue of the oils was duly anno­tated – and equally val­ues the organolep­tic and health prop­er­ties of extra vir­gin olive oil.

New and inno­v­a­tive prod­ucts

Alimentaria’s Innoval space show­cased more than 300 new and inno­v­a­tive prod­ucts, among them a range of pre­mium Spanish olive oils, such as the P” by Pepa oil​from the Picudo and Hojiblanca vari­eties, and var­i­ous aro­matic olive oils, includ­ing a set of organic oils with thyme, mint, rose­mary, tar­ragon or basil from Catalonia’s Olicatessen. A fel­low Catalan, the retail chain Casa Ametller, launched a fruit-fla­vored yogurt range in which olive oil replaces the ani­mal fat. Meanwhile, Acesur’s La Española brand pre­sented a new extra vir­gin olive oil prod­uct for­ti­fied with omega 3 fatty acids aimed at health con­scious con­sumers.

Barcelona-based com­pany Nice Fruit won 5 of the 16 Innoval prizes for inno­va­tion for its patented sys­tem said to allow fruit to be deep frozen when per­fectly ripe, kept for up to three years with­out los­ing its organolep­tic and nutri­tional prop­er­ties, and to main­tain its tex­ture on thaw­ing. Asked whether its suit­abil­ity for olives had been eval­u­ated, Nice Fruit pro­duc­tion direc­tor José Roger said they weren’t among the cur­rent range of 54 fruits but the rev­o­lu­tion­ary tech­nol­ogy could well be applied to them in the future.


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