Since winning two gold awards at the 20016 New York International Olive Oil Competition, Salvatore Russo-Tiesi says his Bono USA, Inc. has flourished. The company represents Bonolio Sas, a large extra virgin olive oil producer in Italy. “Our concentration is on quality and authenticity,” he said of the Bono 100% Organic blend and Bono PDO Val di Mazara, grown and pressed in Sicily.
While his brands have always emphasized purity and quality, Russo-Tiesi said that from a marketing standpoint, the NYIOOC awards have opened his business to new horizons. “Olive Oil Times is seen by the industry as having the utmost integrity and legitimacy. It’s a well-respected source of accurate information in our field,” he said. “And the competition just takes that a step further, allowing us to confirm against some of the best EVOOs in the world our own legitimacy and superiority.”
Winning an award at the prestigious competition, said Tiesi, has been a door-opener and the recognition from buyers, instant. The NYIOOC Gold Award has translated to “skipping a full step in the selling process,” he said. “I’m taken more seriously.” Immediately after the April competition, Tiesi has connected with national distributors for large supermarket chains, restaurants, smaller chains, and even individuals via the NYIOOC’s Best Olive Oils Marketplace where he sells the winning oils.
“Before I won the awards, I might reach out via phone or email and get no response. But since the competition, I can mention the award and the legitimacy is already there. I’ve made many, many sales since the competition.”
The international nature of the competition has further inspired the Bono USA owner to broaden his knowledge on the commodity he represents. When the Olive Oil Times Education Lab co-hosted the first Olive Oil Sommelier certification Course at the International Culinary Center, led by some of the world’s foremost experts on the topic of the sensory analysis of EVOO, Tiesi jumped at the chance to participate.
“The course helped my palate catch up with my expertise in the commercial and production sides of the product and to dig into the category further. It also gave me a better understanding of my competition and how I need to be selling.” Tiesi plans to complete levels 2 and 3 of the certification courses this winter.
Even as the first olives from the new 2016/2017 harvest are being crushed into oil, producers around the world are entering their brands in the 2017 New York International Olive Oil Competition at the fastest rate in the five-year history of the contest.
Producers and marketers of extra virgin olive oils can enter the 2017 NYIOOC on the competition’s website.