`Fancy Food Show Rife with Opportunities for Olive Oil Stakeholders - Olive Oil Times

Fancy Food Show Rife with Opportunities for Olive Oil Stakeholders

Jul. 4, 2014
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.”

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

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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