` Fancy Food Show Rife with Opportunities for Olive Oil Stakeholders

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Fancy Food Show Rife with Opportunities for Olive Oil Stakeholders

Jul. 4, 2014
By Vanessa Stasio

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The olive oil world was well rep­re­sented at the 60th annual Sum­mer Fancy Food Show in New York City. Olive oil pro­duc­ers, exporters, retail­ers and pro­mo­tion com­mit­tees hail­ing from around the globe con­verged upon the Jacob K. Jav­its Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in New York City from June 29th – July 1st at the mas­sive event that fea­tured 180,000 spe­cialty food and bev­er­ages and draws over 24,000 vis­i­tors.

Antonella Car­oli

Among the inter­na­tional and domes­tic exhibitors from the olive oil indus­try, many had been attend­ing this show for years, while oth­ers were exhibit­ing for the first time. How­ever, the rea­sons behind their atten­dance at this major event were com­mon to both groups: the Amer­i­can mar­ket is a crit­i­cal one and the show pro­vides oppor­tu­nity for forg­ing and solid­i­fy­ing con­nec­tions.

Siz­able Amer­i­can Mar­ket

Almost all of those in atten­dance expressed a keen aware­ness of unre­al­ized growth oppor­tu­ni­ties in Amer­ica, with a par­tic­u­lar empha­sis on improv­ing aware­ness of olive oil. Antonella Car­oli, sales & export Man­ager for Antica Masse­ria Car­oli, a pro­ducer from Puglia, Italy, said, It’s an impor­tant mar­ket. We want to improve Amer­i­cans’ knowl­edge about olive oil. There is a lot of con­fu­sion and we want to explain how qual­ity olive oils are dif­fer­ent.”

Savas Ozal­tun

Other exhibitors were excited about con­nect­ing with U.S. con­sumers, buy­ers and cat­e­gory man­agers given the Amer­i­cans’ inter­est in olive oil. Savas Ozal­tun, gen­eral man­ager of Ravika, the fastest-grow­ing olive oil brand in Turkey, knows that there is a great poten­tial in the U.S. We have been com­ing to the Fancy Food Show for over five years and we have found that Amer­i­cans are always open to new.’ They are thirsty to find out about new sources of qual­ity oils, espe­cially since the mar­ket is becom­ing sat­u­rated with oils from cer­tain well-known [pro­duc­ing] coun­tries.”

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A Chance to Con­nect

Olive oil exhibitors all men­tioned the word con­nec­tion” when prompted for their rea­sons for attend­ing the Fancy Food Show.

Anto­nio Arcis

For those com­pa­nies who have had booths at the show for years, the event pro­vides an opti­mal set­ting to meet with cus­tomers and col­leagues with whom they oth­er­wise only com­mu­ni­cate through tech­no­log­i­cal means. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the United Olive Oil Import Cor­po­ra­tion, a 100 year-old, fam­ily-run olive oil com­pany out of Sicily, have been exhibit­ing at the show for over twenty years. This is a chance for us to recon­nect with peo­ple we do busi­ness with,” said Tom­maso Asaro, who han­dles sales and mar­ket­ing for the com­pany. Anto­nio Arcis of Acorsa echoed those sen­ti­ments; We have had a pres­ence at this event for years. We meet with cus­tomers from across the coun­try. Peo­ple expect us to be here.”

For new­com­ers at the show, there was hope for build­ing busi­ness and get­ting one’s name out there. Carla Reis-Alves is com­mer­cial direc­tor of Oli­vais do Sul, a small pro­ducer in Por­tu­gal. She described her brand as very young and char­ac­ter­ized the peo­ple she had met thus far at the show as very nice and very open,” which is ideal for a grow­ing busi­ness like hers. Tony Fultz, who works in sales for Ohio-based Oli­vamed, said he and his col­league were look­ing to get the brand out” and spread the word about their com­pany.

The Fancy Food Show also fea­tured edu­ca­tional sem­i­nars and awards rec­og­niz­ing excel­lence in foods and bev­er­ages.

Jean-Louis Bar­jol (file)

Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Bar­jol Also On Hand

After speak­ing at a morn­ing sem­i­nar titled Under­stand­ing Olive Oil,” Jean-Louis Bar­jol, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil (IOC), was asked to com­ment on the recent down­ward trend in olive oil imports in the U.S. and other major mar­kets. At this point, he said, the expec­ta­tion is that imports in major mar­kets will likely be down 7.5 per­cent, but it is still too early in the year to know for sure that this will be the case. He men­tioned Spain hav­ing sig­nif­i­cantly higher pro­duc­tion last year as one of the rea­sons why the import num­bers are trend­ing dis­mally.

On the Stance Against Fla­vored Extra Vir­gin” Oils

Bar­jol was quick to point out that there is not an IOC cam­paign against fla­vored oils, but in fact, a reminder to mem­ber coun­try gov­ern­ments to re-estab­lish that extra vir­gin” oils are, by def­i­n­i­tion, nei­ther fla­vored nor infused. He said that it is up to the gov­ern­ments to refer pro­duc­ers to estab­lished label­ing reg­u­la­tions. When asked specif­i­cally about what he thought the reac­tion would be to this, he responded that it will be a mat­ter of indi­vid­ual coun­tries’ pol­i­tics that deter­mines what the reac­tion of pro­duc­ers will be.

What Bar­jol Hoped to Accom­plish with Morn­ing Sem­i­nar

The IOC direc­tor said that the main objec­tive of the sem­i­nar orga­nized dur­ing the Fancy Food Show was to make the point that the IOC is a dream team” — a neu­tral, insti­tu­tional body that any­one in the olive oil world should want to work with in order to tap into their exper­tise. He wanted to rein­force the mes­sage that the Coun­cil is a trans­par­ent orga­ni­za­tion that makes all of its analy­ses and ini­tia­tives pub­licly avail­able.

What’s Next After His Tenure Ends

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When asked what his plans were after his three-year appoint­ment ends this Decem­ber, Bar­jol said there remained the pos­si­bil­ity that he will be reap­pointed, so it was too early to say what his future plans are.





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