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.”
The European Union, together with Olives from Spain, and Michelin-starred chef and internationally-recognized culinary innovator, José Andrés, introduced their “Have an Olive Day” campaign to the Miami market as part of their nationwide initiative on Tuesday, November 14.
On the heels of a successful unveiling in New York City earlier this year, Andrés and Olives from Spain debuted the campaign in Miami and hosted an intimate tasting. The event took place at SAAM at SLS Brickell, home to Andrés’ second Miami outpost, Bazaar Mar, where he showcased how olives can be enjoyed in a variety of forms to 60 of Miami’s influential leaders in the culinary industry and media.
The goal of this new three-year collaboration between the Spanish Inter-Professional Table Olive Organization, INTERACEITUNA and the European Union with Andrés as the campaign ambassador is to raise awareness of the versatility, flavor, nutrition and rich history of olive production in Europe, where olives have been the heart of the culture and cuisine for more than 2,000 years.
“I am absolutely thrilled that we are able introduce the amazing and delicious olives from my home country to the Miami market,” said Andrés. “Miami is such a beautiful city and has an influential Spanish community that I feel they will truly love the flavors and variety.”
The temperate weather of southern Europe and rich, fertile soil are idyllic for growing table olives. Spain is the world leader in production and exports of table olives, accounting for 21 percent of world production and 30 percent of world exports. In 2016, more than 83 percent of the olives imported into the U.S. came from Europe.
The ‘Have an Olive Day’ campaign will run through the year 2019 and will seek to educate U.S. consumers on the different variations of European olives and their culinary uses. While the campaign will launch nationally, it will focus on regions with particularly heavy olive consumption, which include New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia.
Consumer trends toward snacking, free-from and better-for-you foods are driving retail penetration for Little Red Dot Kitchen Bak Kwa meat snacks, inspired by a traditional grilled Singapore and Malaysian street food.
The Bak Kwa now are available in the San Francisco Bay area at Andronico’s Community Markets, Lunardi’s Markets, Draeger’s and Woodlands Market through UNFI of Providence, Rhode Island, said Little Red Dot Kitchen CEO Ching Lee. The high protein meat snacks, which are lower sodium, paleo-friendly, and free from gluten, nitrites, nitrates, antibiotics and hormones, are being carried in Michigan by Papa Joe’s Market, Randazzo Fresh Market and Holiday Market through Carmella Foods of Fraser, Michigan, Lee said.
The meat snacks also now are distributed by First Source of Toano, Virginia, and Renaissance Specialty Foods, and Little Red Dot Kitchen has added brokers Daymon Worldwide of Stamford, Connecticut, and Share Organics of Santa Rosa, California.
Little Red Dot Kitchen’s Bak Kwa meat snacks come from U.S. family farms dedicated to raising animals humanely and without antibiotics or hormones. They are minimally processed, with most ingredients having non-GMO verification and also are free from artificial ingredients, wheat, dairy and eggs. The meat snacks are available in resealable 1- to 3-ounce packages with a suggested retail price of $6.99 to $7.99. Cases include 12 of the 2- to 3-ounce bags and 18 of the 1-ounce bags.
Bak Kwa meat snacks are available in five flavors, including the 2016 sofi® Award winning Hickory Smoked Spicy Candied Bacon, which has no nitrates or nitrites, Spicy Chipotle Beef Bak Kwa, Lemongrass Beef, Pork Bak Kwa, and free-range Turkey Bak Kwa. A vegan version, Eggplant Baconess Bak Kwa is available in 2-ounce bags with a suggested retail price of $4.99 to $5.99.
More information about Little Red Dot Kitchen is available by connecting online at www.facebook.com/reddotkitchen, www.instagram.com/littlereddotkithen and ,www.twitter.com/reddotkitchen or by calling 408.673.8227.