One of the world’s most prized liquid treasures is Sicilian extra virgin olive oil. Sicily is an island woven from a fusion of cultures that has resulted in a rich and varied genetic legacy. With its dry summers, lashed by the Sirocco Saharan winds, as well as its balmy winter, the temperate climate influences the spirit of the organic olive trees that have been part of the fertile island since its inception.
To get closer to this island’s treasure groves and fully appreciate the fruits of human toil, Bellucci unveiled at the Winter Fancy Food Show its freshly harvested Sicilia PGI Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil as the newest addition to its Legendary Series. True to its cultivars and origin, Sicilia PGI Organic coats the palate with hints of almond and savory undertones of artichoke, coupled with green tomato. It’s unlike any other extra virgin olive oil – a truly authentic gem.
Why is its PGI certification so important? In 2016, the European Commission approved the Protected Geographical Indication PGI ‘Sicilia’ (Sicily) for extra virgin olive oil produced on the island. Such certifications (PGI) by the European Union promote the development of specific rural regions and populations, which are related to agricultural products with special quality characteristics and protect the interests of both growers and consumers. It is transparency at its best in the greater fight against food fraud.
Consumers seeking greater on-label visibility into the origins of the food in their shopping basket are on the rise. Shoppers seek new depths of information across the market, including organic, responsible production and authenticity. At Bellucci, the mission is to bring “Trust Through Traceability” to the market.
Absolutely Gluten Free is entering the energy bar category with the launch of TahiniBAR, a grab-and-go sesame snack offered in three flavors. Each is certified OU kosher and dairy free and has only 100 calories.
The introduction is intended to capitalize on hot trends for the food market, including demand for Mediterranean food, healthy portable snacks and the gluten-free movement.
TahiniBAR is made from roasted sesame seeds for a bar that helps boost energy levels and is a good source of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, calcium, iron, zinc and potassium. Sesame seeds are thought to offer a variety of health benefits, including cholesterol control, heart health, improved blood pressure and hormone balance. Sesame is also thought to boost nutrient absorption and energy levels.
The three flavors for the bars are Cocoa Nibs, Pistachio and Vanilla. They’re sold in packs of seven 4.4-ounce bars, with the suggested retail price for a box of seven bars at $2.49 to $2.99.
By Lorrie Baumann
Lucinia Italia’s Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Organic Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil will continue to be produced on partner estates in Italy, and the Lucini oil coming from Argentina is packaged in bottles clearly labeled with the oil’s origin.
Argentina has been known over the past several years for making really great award-winning olive oils, but they hadn’t found fans yet in the U.S., and as a result, much of that oil that came into the U.S. market was coming as a component in a blended oil, with its Argentinian origin obscured by its label mention in a country code on the back of the bottle, according to Mike Forbes, Executive Vice President and General Manager of California Olive Ranch. This Lucini’s new 100 percent Argentinian oil is a mild, green, fruity oil, a blend of the Arbequina, Picual, and Italian varietals including Coratina, Frantoio and Arbequina varietals, that’s great for everyday use, he said, adding that, “Once we tasted it, we fell in love with it.”
All of the olives for the new Lucini oil are grown in the wine regions of Mendoza, which is also where the grapes for Malbec wines are grown, and in south San Juan. “We work directly with the producers. We visit directly with our team,” Forbes said. “We hand-select all of the oil at harvest. … We take every container of olive oil and test it to make sure that it meets our specifications and the specifications that define extra virgin olive oil.”
The olive growers from whom California Olive Ranch Lucini sources the oils are mostly family farmers, some of Italian heritage as the result of a wave of Italian immigration that happened in Argentina at the beginning of the 20th century, just as many Italians arrived in the U.S. at that time. It’s estimated that around half of Argentina’s current population has some degree of Italian descent. Other contributors of fruit to the Lucini oil are Argentinian growers who’ve become attracted to the olives as a new crop over the past decade or two. These Argentinian producers are entrepreneurial and progressive, bringing a New World perspective to their craft as well as the savvy to team up with Lucini and California Olive Ranch, which have established roots in the American market and the distribution network that goes along with that, according to Forbes. “The U.S. is a pretty tough place to do business,” he said. “We can help growers with that because we’re taking the product and bringing it to the shelf all the way to the consumer.”
California Olive Ranch also offers the strength of the Lucini brand, which is already familiar to American consumers. “We’re taking this great Argentinian oil and we’re showcasing it as a 100 percent Argentinian oil, and that’s really exciting for the growers,” Forbes said. “What we have seen in the U.S. is that there’s a huge and increasing demand for high-quality olive oil. People want to know where it’s from. They want high-quality oil with good flavor.”
Adding the Argentinian oil into the company’s product range will help ensure the availability of fresh oil on the shelf throughout the year, since Argentina’s location in the southern hemisphere means that its olives are ready for harvest during the United States’ spring. “There’s obviously a freshness benefit,” Forbes noted.
California Olive Ranch is offering the Lucini Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil in 500 ml and 1-liter bottles. The 500 ml bottle retails for $10.99, with the liter retailing for $17.99. “That’s a price point that works for the consumer,” Forbes said. “We find that consumers are willing to pay a little extra to get something they know is good.”