How Awards Helped One Tunisian Producer Thrive in the Lucrative U.S. Market

The NYIOOC award-winning producer behind Massiva combines generations of olive oil production experience with adept marketing.

Naouel Bouabid
By Lisa Anderson
Jun. 27, 2023 20:55 UTC
Naouel Bouabid

Winning the indus­try’s most cov­eted qual­ity awards pro­vides a range of ben­e­fits for pro­duc­ers, from val­i­dat­ing cul­ti­va­tion and pro­duc­tion tech­niques to improv­ing brand vis­i­bil­ity in a crowded mar­ket­place.

For Naouel Bouabid, the owner of the Tunisian pro­ducer Massiva, win­ning two awards at the 2023 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition for the sec­ond year run­ning was no excep­tion.

I have a solid, expe­ri­enced pro­duc­tion team in Tunisia. We pur­sue a com­mon result and have a com­mon goal: high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil, healthy farms and happy peo­ple.- Naouel Bouabid, owner, Massiva

Bouabid and her team earned a Gold Award for their organic medium-inten­sity Chemlali and Silver Award for their organic medium-inten­sity Chetoui, both bot­tled under the Damya brand.

She told Olive Oil Times that these awards had improved her com­pa­ny’s cred­i­bil­ity with con­sumers, retail­ers and dis­trib­u­tors. It also rewards the ded­i­ca­tion of our hard­work­ing team for pro­duc­ing high-qual­ity prod­ucts,” she said.

See Also:Producer Profiles

When Bouabid moved to the United States six years ago, it dawned on her how much she missed fresh extra vir­gin olive oil from her fam­i­ly’s olive groves in Tunisia. She said her fam­ily has multi­gen­er­a­tional exper­tise in olive oil pro­duc­tion and the indus­try.

This long­ing prompted her to start Massiva, to bring Tunisian extra vir­gin olive oil to the U.S. and share it with her local com­mu­nity in the San Francisco Bay area.

In 2020, I pre­sented the first Damya extra vir­gin olive oil to my neigh­bor­hood stores,” Bouabid said. They instantly loved it and started sell­ing it right away.”

Kudos to Zanotto’s, Piazza’s, Bianchini’s and Draeger’s for tak­ing a risk on an unknown pro­ducer,” she added. Retailers and con­sumers liked our authen­tic prod­ucts.”

Bouabid explained that each pro­ducer has unique goals and objec­tives, which makes it essen­tial to under­stand their def­i­n­i­tion of suc­cess.

There is no time for esti­mat­ing or guess­ing,” she said. In the early years of oper­a­tion, intense com­mu­ni­ca­tion is needed to ensure that every­one thinks with the same mind­set, knows the goals and objec­tives and can iden­tify the fun­da­men­tal obsta­cles and weak­nesses to be over­come.”

She said her team in Tunisia had to learn to under­stand the U.S. mar­ket require­ments and chal­lenges.

I have a solid, expe­ri­enced pro­duc­tion team in Tunisia,” Bouabid said. We pur­sue a com­mon result and have a com­mon goal: high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil, healthy farms and happy peo­ple.”


Bouabid attributes Massiva’s consistent quality to her experienced team of farmers and production staff.

I have a great sales and mar­ket­ing team in the U.S.,” she added. Our team, across coun­tries, is pro­gress­ing well because each indi­vid­ual under­stands his role and impact on the suc­cess of Massiva.”

The team whole­heart­edly believes in the high-qual­ity prod­uct we are pro­vid­ing and in our capac­ity to grow to become a leader in olive oil,” Bouabid con­tin­ued. Each team­mate shares our com­mon per­spec­tive, which improves the result every year.”

With the ben­e­fit of hind­sight, Bouabid would have done a few things dif­fer­ently, includ­ing start­ing Massiva when she arrived in the U.S. and hir­ing more work­ers and seek­ing help from local experts sooner.

The American mar­ket and food indus­try is spe­cific and dif­fer­ent from Europe or other places I used to work,” Bouabid said. Working with experts in the U.S. mar­ket in the sales and mar­ket­ing field is help­ing Massiva to progress faster and in the right direc­tion.”


Bouabid attrib­uted Massiva’s suc­cess to the com­pa­ny’s val­ues: work­ing hard, being authen­tic and trans­par­ent and cre­at­ing a high-qual­ity and healthy prod­uct.

She also listed car­ing about con­sumers, their farms, the com­pa­ny’s farm­ers and the envi­ron­ment as keys to Massiva’s suc­cess.

Even though quite a few retail­ers were quick to stock Bouabid’s prod­ucts from the start, there have been obsta­cles along the way.

It wasn’t easy,” she said. There were many chal­lenges, at all stages, to pro­duce and mar­ket high-qual­ity olive oil.”

Bouabid pointed out that the olive oil mar­ket is highly com­pet­i­tive, with plenty of choices in every store. She added that con­sumers are not well-edu­cated on dis­cern­ing the qual­ity of olive oils and dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing olive oil brands and prod­ucts.


Organic olive oil costs more to produce than conventional oil. Still, Bouabid is betting that demand will continue to grow.

Organic and bio­dy­namic foods are often more expen­sive than con­ven­tional foods,” she said, and some cus­tomers aren’t will­ing to pay a higher price for bet­ter qual­ity.”

Regarding pro­duc­tion, Bouabid said the com­pany has had to con­tend with drought and other har­vest chal­lenges.

One of the biggest chal­lenges our organic farm­ers face is pests and dis­ease,” she said. Because organic farm­ers do not use syn­thetic pes­ti­cides or her­bi­cides, they are much more vul­ner­a­ble to dam­age from insects, fungi and other pests.”

She pointed out that bio­dy­namic agri­cul­ture has addi­tional chal­lenges, such as low yield com­pared to con­ven­tional indus­trial farm­ing.

Biodynamic farm­ing is still not very wide­spread and requires more sup­port from the food indus­try,” she said. Fortunately, retail­ers and con­sumers are dri­ving increased demand for bio­dy­nam­i­cally grown foods.”

But despite all of this, Bouabid said she has plenty of great rea­sons to be an extra vir­gin olive oil dis­trib­u­tor.

Tunisia, my native coun­try, is an olive oil coun­try,” she con­cluded. It’s the num­ber one pro­ducer of organic olive oil in the world, and it deserves more global credit for the incred­i­ble qual­ity that we pro­duce.”

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