breaking down under light. “You don’t want to put your finest
olive oil on the top shelf, especially, heaven forbid, if it is in a
To maximize sales, retailers need to educate their shoppers,
Devarenne says. “Consumers are coming in with some preju-
dices and vague ideas. The more the retailer can guide them
to the oil that they want, the better off they will be. Retailers
should partner with their vendors and work together because
an educated consumer is your absolute best ally,” she says.
In Devarenne’s perfect world, retailers would divide their sets
into two, with the upper half housing condiment oils and the
bottom cooking oils. “At eye level I would put the aspirational
oils, the good extra virgins, the sexy stuff,” she says. “It is where
you put the ones with interesting origins, interesting varieties,
good producer stories. It is where you invite the browser.”
One of those would likely be Gaea, high-quality Greek olive
oils sourced from co-operative farms without any middleman.
“We offer completely traceable, affordable premium extra
virgin olive oil,” says David Neuman, CEO of Gaea North
America, based in Hollywood, Fla.
Neuman says all Gaea oils are 100-percent Greek with no
“med-blends” in the mix. “Most of our oils are monovarietal
with the exception of a couple of Greek blends, whose olives
hail from the same region. Our extra virgin olive oils are all
chemical and sensory tested by a third-party, and we’re able to
provide a certificate of authenticity for every product we produce,” he says.
There is a discernable taste difference between olive oils from
Spain, Italy, Greece, California and other countries, Neuman
notes. “Most of our oils are of the Koroneiki variety, which pro-
vides a medium robust, grassy green flavored oil,” he says. “It
is a fact that 80 percent of all olive oils produced in Greece
are extra virgin grade, compared to 50 percent in Italy and 20
percent in Spain.”
Pompeian blends and bottles its olive oil at its Baltimore
plant, which company officials believe gives them a leg up on
“We’re one of the few brands in the U.S. that actually has
the USDA seal of approval,” says Monroe. “The government
can come into our plant and randomly inspect it at any time.
While we follow international rules, we also have the U.S. gov-
ernment in our plant. You can’t do that in Spain. You can’t do
that in Italy.”
According to Monroe, because Pompeian oil is sent to
Baltimore in bulk via tanker ships, it is more earth-friendly than
oils bottled in Europe.
Already one of the more expensive products in the store,
weather and pest issues are causing olive oil prices to sky-
rocket, Monroe says. “The price of olive oil will go up dramati-
cally over the next several months. Maybe by the end of the
year it will start coming down,” Monroe says. “In 2018, hope-
fully we’ll be back to normal.”
To combat the rising prices, retailers may want to consider
offering a line of private label oils, Coleman says. “Catania Oils
is a ‘one-stop shop’ for all of a retailer’s olive oil and vegetable
oil needs,” Coleman says. “We also offer custom blending and
many varieties of specialty oils. We’re proud to be the first pri-
vate label packer to market national brand equivalent bottling
for the olive oil and vegetable oil categories.”
Many retailers are trying to set themselves apart by stocking
flavored oils. According to manufacturers, consumers buying
flavored oils are more likely to keep more than one in their
pantry and use them for different occasions.
extraGONZO Gourmet Foods markets a line of EVOO and
grapeseed oil flavored blends, which include Roasted Garlic,
Meyer Lemon, Blood Orange and a new Jalapeño Lime flavor
that debuted in January.
“Proprietary infused oils fit the booming ‘easy gourmet’
trend,” says Tom Stevens, creator and owner of extraGONZO,
based in Boise, Idaho. “They make cooking easy and quick
for the busy working mom and dad. They add a tremendous
amount of flavor. Try Blood Orange Oil drizzled over vanilla
ice cream. Folks see a new dimension when introduced to the
infused oil category, keeping them excited about trying new
Traditional oil manufacturers are also trying new ideas.
Conagra Brands, for example, recently introduced PAM non-
aerosol cooking spray, made with only three ingredients: oil,
alcohol to create a fine spray and soy lecithin.
“We’re excited to introduce PAM’s new non-aerosol cooking sprays this summer,” says Ashley Space, PAM brand manager at Conagra, based in Chicago. “PAM non-aerosol combines the simple ingredients today’s consumers seek with the
legendary performance they’ve come to associate with PAM.
With no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and non-stick
performance superior to oil or butter, PAM non-aerosol spray
will soon be an indispensable kitchen ingredient.” CS