Award-Winning Farm in Croatia Grows Its Brand in The Austrian Market

The producers behind Avistria use social media to find and grow relationships with clients in their native Austria from their farm in Croatia.
Rudolf and Beatrix Nemetschke
Oct. 5, 2021
Jasmina Nevada

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When the pro­duc­ers behind Avistria began pro­duc­ing olive oil in 2015, it marked a com­plete change from their pre­vi­ous pro­fes­sions.

Rudolf Nemetschke worked in invest­ment bank­ing and asset man­age­ment while his wife, Beatrix, ran a con­sult­ing and pub­lic rela­tions com­pany.

We do not invest in clas­si­cal mar­ket­ing tools. The only infor­ma­tion chan­nel we use is social media.- Rudolf Nemetschke, co-owner, Avistria

They decided to research wood­lands and plan­ta­tions as invest­ments, espe­cially since Nemetschke was par­tic­u­larly famil­iar with the field of alter­na­tive invest­ing – asset classes that exclude stocks, bonds and cur­ren­cies.

See Also: Producer Profiles

Initially, there were doubts about olive farm­ing as the Nemetschkes said they had aller­gic reac­tions to some super­mar­ket olive oils they used at home. However, they soon real­ized there was a sig­nif­i­cant gap in the Austrian mar­ket for high-qual­ity olive oils.

They pur­chased land in the Sveti Lovrec region of Istria, Croatia’s north­west­ern penin­sula. Historically, Sveti Lovrec was the seat of Venetian bish­ops, who were renowned for mak­ing wise land invest­ments.

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Avistria quickly built a port­fo­lio of autochtho­nous olives – Buza, Carbonazza, Bijelica and Oblica – and some Italian vari­eties – Itrana and Frantoio.

The cou­ple opted for these cul­ti­vars instead of ones best suited for high-den­sity and super-high-den­sity groves to farm more sus­tain­ably, they said.

Ahead of the 2021 har­vest, Nemetschke told Olive Oil Times that he has a pos­i­tive out­look, despite the region at large expect­ing a sig­nif­i­cant reduc­tion in the har­vest.

The out­look is pos­i­tive, as our out­put will rise dra­mat­i­cally this year,” he said. The 1,600 trees planted in 2016 have started to pro­duce notice­able amounts of fruit. It will be a chal­lenge for us to strengthen our direct mar­ket­ing efforts to sell these amounts of oil.”

While the unsea­son­ably late frosts that plagued other Istrian pro­duc­ers have not impacted Avistria, Nemetschke said he was set­back by the par­tic­u­larly hot and dry sum­mer.

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In the spring and begin­ning of the sum­mer this year, the blos­som­ing of the trees started very late, pos­ing a risk that the flow­ers would be des­ic­cated dur­ing the hot and dry con­di­tions,” he said.

As a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure, he sprin­kled the trees with water early in the morn­ing, which allowed the sur­vival of the blos­soms. He now antic­i­pates that the ripe olives cur­rently adorn­ing the branches of his trees will be plen­ti­ful.

For the upcom­ing year, Avistria has already care­fully planned how they will ensure the high­est pos­si­ble qual­ity prod­uct, from har­vest­ing the olives to trans­form­ing them at the mill.

Nemetschke said that he will espe­cially focus on how to best store the oils in the roughly month-long period before they are sold to Avistria’s clients. He also wants to improve his blend­ing skills.

Our Istrian Blend has con­stantly won Silver Awards at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, and we want to do bet­ter here,” Nemetschke said.

At the 2021 NYIOOC, Avistria earned a Gold and two Silver Awards for a del­i­cate Istria Buza, and del­i­cate Pendolino and del­i­cate blend, respec­tively.

See Also: Tragedy Inspires One Croatian Family to Grow Olives

In 2020, Avistria also earned a Silver Award for the same del­i­cate blend, com­prised of Leccino, Istria Buza and Istrian Bjelica olives. They also won two Gold Awards for a pair of mono­va­ri­etals.

Our Istrian Blend got its award for the sec­ond time, which is a big suc­cess,” Nemetschke said. Participation in com­pe­ti­tions is the most impor­tant fac­tor of qual­ity con­trol in our com­pany.”

The next step [was] the review of all pro­duc­tion steps on the basis of the results,” he added.

Along with the annual task of har­vest­ing the olives and tak­ing care of the trees, Nemetschke also has his sights set on diver­si­fy­ing Avistria.

The next big tar­get will be build­ing a new farm­house, includ­ing a small mill, but that is more of a five-year project,” he said.

In the mean­time, Nemetschke con­tin­ues to develop his mar­ket­ing strat­egy based on their tar­get cus­tomer base of pri­vate clients, restau­rants, hotels and some spe­cialty stores.

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Avistria

Through direct mar­ket­ing, Avistria is keen to build client rela­tion­ships through an ini­tial guided tast­ing of their oils.

Nemetschke said this process puts par­tic­u­lar empha­sis on inform­ing poten­tial and exist­ing clients about their ded­i­ca­tion to qual­ity at every step of the process and uti­liza­tion of a direct deliv­ery ser­vice for their oils.

Additionally, Nemetschke wants to bet­ter inform his cus­tomers about their dif­fer­ent types of extra vir­gin olive oil, how to use and store the oils and how best to pair the olive oils with dif­fer­ent foods.

We do not invest in clas­si­cal mar­ket­ing tools,” he said. The only infor­ma­tion chan­nel we use is social media.”

This is how we keep up with our clients,” he added. Short sto­ries, videos and pho­tos pro­vide news and infor­ma­tion on our busi­ness and prod­ucts.”

A few excep­tions to this model are made for clients from the restau­rant and hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor. For exam­ple, chefs are invited to visit the olive grove in Istria and get an idea of the land, the peo­ple involved and the qual­ity of the prod­uct.

Another com­pet­i­tive advan­tage is that we are the only Istrian pro­ducer with Austrian roots, and no lan­guage bar­ri­ers,” Nemetschke said. We pro­vide 100-per­cent trans­parency with our har­vest­ing and man­age­ment activ­i­ties. Uniquely, our prod­ucts are avail­able directly from us and deliv­ered per­son­ally.”


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