As a prelude to the World Olive Oil Exhibition (WOOE), which will be held on March 8 and 9, 2022 at the IFEMA Madrid venue, a second discussion table has taken place that brought together different experts under the slogan "Perspectives of the category of olive oils from distribution, production and packaging", which revealed that communication is the pending issue in the sector.
Summoned by Juan Vilar, strategic consultant and advisor to the WOOE, five experts from the olive sector gathered, in addition to José Luis Murcia, CEO and executive director of the WOOE.
As an expert in food production and distribution, Carlos Tejedor opened the debate by putting on the table that, a few years ago, along with milk and detergent “oil was one of the great offers of supermarkets, reaching negative margins, which caused the product to become trivial”. However, this situation has changed, as stated by Antonio Serrano, director of the Meva Area, who specified that “nowadays the best oils that can be found on the shelves are the private brands of large distribution, which are getting to produce a quality product that makes for greater sophistication, an explosion of varietals, of first harvests… ”.
For his part, Jorge Pena, CEO of Innoliva, considered that “we still have to continue adding value to the sector” and added that “we have over-regulation and legal certainty that is a barrier to consumption. We live in a bubble and what we think about in the olive sector is far removed from the ordinary citizen. We don't know how to communicate.”
Also, Clara Parejas, Market Manager of Grupo Oleícola Jaén, pointed out that "we have to be able to create the olive oil brand and know how to communicate about the product itself and all the culture that surrounds it: landscape, origin, agriculture ... The more we get involved in this, the better it will be for everyone and the only way to continue with the value chain and continue to make a brand.”
The great challenge: train the consumer
In turn, Sergio Miranda, an expert in Distribution and Development of Projects from Scratch, compared the olive oil sector with that of wine 20 years ago. “Before there were growers in the houses and now, thanks to the evolution that this sector had, in all the houses there is a certain quality wine or, at least, there is something more than a red to mix with soda. The same has to happen in oil.”
Aware that the product is good and does not need additions, when it comes to communicating, for Carlos Tejedor it is essential “to enter into the intangibles component ; Spain has 32 PDOs and each one has its idiosyncrasies, values and nuances, and that must be reflected and that it reaches the consumer. " "You have to communicate everything, have a larger portfolio, better packaging, improve the shopping experience, etc", said Clara Parejas.
During the debate, according to its organizers, it became clear that one of the great problems of the olive oil sector is to reach the consumer in a more direct and understandable way. "We are determined that the consumer knows our language, when the problem is ours, since we do not know how to understand what they want and give it to them", said Juan Pena. "Indeed, the citizen does not know the differences between an olive oil, a virgin olive oil and an extra virgin olive oil, and that is where we have to put the focus because, although the consumer is sovereign, he has to know what options it has and if it is not trained, it is useless” said Couples.
For Jorge Pena, the fact of generating moments of consumption in Spain is. In addition, he added that “we“fantastic, however, I would bet on being more ambitious. If 25 kilos of fat are consumed worldwide per person and year, and of those, 0.5 kilos corresponds to olive oil, it must be a kilo. And if in the United States they consume one liter a year, it is necessary to get them to consume two. Have to look at the long term, not look at ourselves, but at a global level. The product is good and, with more effort, we can achieve it.”
Finally, Antonio Serrano commented that if the "world market is mostly filled with refined oils, perhaps what you have to do is enter with refined olive oils, which are healthier." For his part, Sergio Miranda bet that “to conquer markets, there must be leaders. The consumer must be understood and if we speak at the national level, it is retail that now has to reinvent itself and adapt to new consumer habits.”