`Third-Generation Producer Brings the World's Best Olive Oils to London - Olive Oil Times

Third-Generation Producer Brings the World's Best Olive Oils to London

By Daniel Dawson
Mar. 9, 2023 22:14 UTC

Since open­ing its doors more than 20 years ago in Borough Market, on the bank of the Thames, The Olive Oil Co. has become a stal­wart of the London olive oil scene.

Owner Danilo Manco first moved to London from his native Puglia in 1997 to study and decided to stay.

Our objec­tive is for peo­ple to come in, try the prod­uct and under­stand more about it. They will always come back to buy.- Danilo Manco, owner, The Olive Oil Co.

I stayed and started my busi­ness,” he told Olive Oil Times. My grand­fa­ther had land in Puglia, so I was always con­nected with olive oil.”

Recently, Manco returned to his grand­fa­ther’s land, restor­ing exist­ing olive groves and plant­ing new ones. Along with the selec­tion of imported oils, he also sells his own.

See Also:Olive Oil Aisles Result in Superior Supermarket Sales

In addi­tion to his shop in the mar­ket, Manco also imports olive oil in bulk for food ser­vice. Most of the extra vir­gin olive oil comes from Puglia, but Manco also sources his selec­tion from around the olive oil world.

Every year, we have a selec­tion of dif­fer­ent pro­duc­ers that send us their sam­ples, and we test them,” he said. Then we decide who is in and who is out.”

A range of fac­tors – from cli­matic con­di­tions to har­vest tim­ing – can impact the qual­ity of the oil. That’s why we keep rotat­ing them,” Manco said. We decide every year by December what we’re going to have for the next year.”

The shop boasts an impres­sive vari­ety of renowned brands, includ­ing a dozen or so NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition award win­ners.

Over the past two decades, Manco has seen a steadily increas­ing appre­ci­a­tion and knowl­edge of extra vir­gin olive oil in London.

Twenty years ago, it was extremely dif­fi­cult to explain why a bot­tle would cost £25 for a half liter, but there is much more knowl­edge now,” he said.


Manco’s olive groves in Puglia

The data bear out Manco’s obser­va­tions. According to the International Olive Council, olive oil con­sump­tion in the United Kingdom increased dra­mat­i­cally, ris­ing from 33,8000 tons in the 2000/01 crop year to 72,300 tons in 2019/20 (the last year for which IOC data are avail­able).

Additionally, a November 2022 report from the Center for the Promotion of Imports, an agency of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the U.K. was among the five non-pro­duc­ing European coun­tries to see the most sig­nif­i­cant increase in con­sump­tion over the past half-decade.

Manco mainly attrib­uted this to the advent of low-cost air fairs in Europe in the mid-2000s, which allowed peo­ple on the con­ti­nent to travel more afford­ably to pro­duc­ing coun­tries and increased aware­ness of olive oil health ben­e­fits.

While vis­it­ing south­ern Europe, he believes Londoners gained a bet­ter appre­ci­a­tion of olive cul­ti­vars, how extra vir­gin olive oil is pro­duced and what dif­fer­en­ti­ates high-qual­ity and low-qual­ity olive oil. One thing is to explain,” Manco said. Another is to see. It’s always dif­fer­ent.”


In our Borough Market stand, we have noticed that cus­tomers ask more spe­cific ques­tions about the prod­uct such as har­vest, press­ing, cul­ti­var and scent,” Manco said. Some of them already know what they are look­ing form while oth­ers ask for sug­ges­tions for a par­tic­u­lar dish. For all vis­i­tors, there is an oppor­tu­nity to get to know more and taste the prod­uct.”

Even though olive oil con­sump­tion con­tin­ues to rise, the Italian-British dual cit­i­zen said the United Kingdom’s deci­sion to leave the European Union in 2016 had made his job more dif­fi­cult.


Danilo Manco (fourth from left) at The Olive Oil Co. at Borough Market

Brexit did not result in new tar­iffs on European olive oil imports but increased bureau­cracy and trans­port times.

Brexit has impacted our busi­ness like any other,” he said. There has been an increase in paper­work. It takes five or six days longer to have the goods clear cus­toms.”

The main issue for us is the extra cost in terms of the extra days that we need for the tran­sit time,” Manco added. Brexit just made every­thing much harder.”


The Olive Oil Co.

The Olive Oil Co. is not the only Italian importer feel­ing the pinch of Brexit. In 2021, Coldiretti, a farm­ers’ asso­ci­a­tion, said Brexit resulted in a sig­nif­i­cant decrease in Italian olive oil, pasta, cheese, wine and tomato sauce exports to the U.K.

Despite the incon­ve­niences cre­ated by the deci­sion to leave the E.U., Manco con­tin­ues to pro­mote olive oil con­sump­tion in the U.K., where but­ter has long been the dom­i­nant fat. He does this by edu­cat­ing restau­rant pur­chasers and the gen­eral pub­lic at his shop.

Sometimes we arrange an evening about olive oil for my restau­rant cus­tomers,” he said. We get 10 to 15 peo­ple together, and we make a first approach of olive oil. Our job is to make the prod­uct more inter­est­ing for peo­ple to know more about it.”

The sales­peo­ple in the store also are trained in olive oil,” he con­cluded. We don’t care whether the per­son buys olive oil or not. Our objec­tive is for peo­ple to come in, try the prod­uct and under­stand more about it. They will always come back to buy.”


Related Articles