`Olive Oils from Near and Far Showcased at Winter Fancy Food Show

Food & Cooking

Olive Oils from Near and Far Showcased at Winter Fancy Food Show

Jan. 22, 2014
Marcel E. Moran

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The NASFT Win­ter Fancy Food Show in San Fran­cisco, Jan­u­ary 21, 2014.

With over 18,000 peo­ple esti­mated in atten­dance, noth­ing seems small about the 2014 Win­ter Fancy Food Show in down­town San Fran­cisco. The aisles of ven­dors, booths, and sam­ples stretch seem­ingly with­out end, and the air is thick with fine food. Now in its 39th year, the show con­tin­ues to bring together olive oil pro­duc­ers from around the world and as near as next door.

A show where you can cater to a highly knowl­edge­able con­sumer.- Felipe Cruz, Olave

As the largest spe­cialty food show in the West­ern United States, many olive oil pro­duc­ers were excited to be a part of an event that con­nects them to a wide range of poten­tial cus­tomers and dis­trib­u­tors. There is such incred­i­ble access to inter­na­tional accounts,” said Greg Hin­son, of O Olive Oil from Petaluma, Cal­i­for­nia. This was not only the case for local brands.

Kim Graw, a US rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Greek olive oil com­pany A Ro Gos believes this show pro­vides the chance to intro­duce her brand to the West Coast where rep­re­sen­ta­tion is lack­ing. This was echoed by Felipe Cruz of Olave, hail­ing from Chile. This is a show for our type of prod­uct, where you can cater to a highly knowl­edge­able con­sumer,” he said. Olave was not the only pro­ducer from South Amer­ica; brands from Argentina and Uruguay were also present, and eager to empha­size their coun­try’s recent growth in olive oil pro­duc­tion.

The show is not only a chance for atten­dees to sam­ple food and speak with ven­dors, but an oppor­tu­nity for all mem­bers to par­tic­i­pate in work­shops and sem­i­nars on the busi­ness of spe­cialty foods, with ses­sions rang­ing from eth­i­cal sourc­ing to prin­ci­ples of mar­ket­ing. The Cal­i­for­nia Olive Oil Coun­cil took the edu­ca­tional mis­sion of the show into its own hands by offer­ing lessons in olive oil tast­ing and rat­ing. Nancy Ash, the edu­ca­tion coor­di­na­tor for the COOC dis­cussed the goals of olive oil test­ing, and walked atten­dees through iden­ti­fy­ing dif­fer­ent qual­i­ties, includ­ing aro­mas, signs of defects, and use­ful descrip­tors from pep­pery to pun­gent, flo­ral to bit­ter.

O Olive Oil

One com­mon topic men­tioned by Cal­i­for­nia pro­duc­ers at the show was the early har­vest of the past year, which for some came a full month ahead of sched­ule. These dif­fer­ences in tim­ing can be sig­nif­i­cant for brands that include other fruits and veg­eta­bles in their oils, which also fol­low yearly cycles, from cit­rus to basil. Pro­duc­ers also men­tioned the impend­ing dam­age of the cur­rent drought on next year’s crops, with the sever­ity still unknown, and many were in the process of imple­ment­ing alter­na­tive irri­ga­tion meth­ods to avoid large reduc­tions in yield.


For those that have been com­ing to the Fancy Food Show con­sis­tently, it marks a yearly chance to gauge dif­fer­ences in atten­dees’ appetites and tastes. There have been a lot of changes over the years,” Kathy Griset, of Cibaria Inter­na­tional said. The Amer­i­can palate has increased to where it has now devel­oped a taste for vari­etals.” For other long time par­tic­i­pants, com­ing to this show boils down to the bot­tom line. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of BR Cohn Olive Oil Com­pany from Sonoma, Cal­i­for­nia said that just two hours into the first day, many orders had already been placed. After 15 years at the show for the brand, some met­rics don’t change.

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