I’m always impressed by a specialty brand’s ability to become a category frontrunner, not to mention tackling markets across the globe. Ficacci Olive Co is one of those rare breeds, having transformed the Italian family business started in 1964 into a specialty stalwart in the United States today. From just a quick glance into the company’s operations, I can already tell that Ficacci will only continue to grow.
“We were trendsetters in Italy with fresh olives, which are categorized by being unpasteurized, without any chemicals, preservatives, artificial coloring, or artificial flavoring. Our olives have around six to eight months of shelf-life and are packed in plastic containers, both to be sold in the olive bar or as pre-packaged offerings,” said Giuseppe Ficacci, Co-Owner. “While our line is extremely affordable, we maintain a premium quality for our products. This is primarily because we cooperate directly with our distributor, so there is no importer in the middle that hikes up our prices. Our price positioning on olives is very aggressive in that respect, giving retailers an incentive to offer the best possible quality.”
Ficacci’s innovative line is 100 percent brineless, meaning that the olives are not soaked in water and salt, contributing to the brand’s clean label without any preservatives. The company’s operations are truly a craft, with Ficacci guiding the olives from the crop to the aging period, and onto the shelf. As an olive leader in Italy, Ficacci has extensive experience. The family-owned and operated company recently doubled down on its retail presence, particularly in the United States as it aims to be a category leader.
“In the last decade, we’ve been able to develop our foreign business, and today we are proud to say that we export our olives in more than 40 countries all around the world. The biggest success we’ve had lately is in the United States,” Giuseppe told me. “Two years ago, we started positive and very proactive cooperation with Atlanta-based Gourmet Foods International (GFI). Without the distribution and GFI partnership, it would have been more difficult to reach the supermarkets. In the first year, we’ve partnered with many of the most important chains in the U.S. We have the structure, the business plan, and the willingness to grow and serve these large retail accounts.”
And that willingness to grow and serve has proved to be vital to the company’s retail expansion in 2020.
“When the pandemic hit, the concern of hygiene at the olive bar was amplified. In the third quarter of 2020, we achieved a huge increase in sales of prepackaged olives. Of course, on the other hand, we lost sales of our bulk olives. People are more comfortable with buying a safe pack that is sealed at a certified plant with hygienic standards,” Giuseppe explained. “Personally, I think that people won’t come back to buying bulk even after the pandemic. As everyone around the world is now more educated about hygienic practices and guidelines, I think Millennial consumers, in particular, will move away from bulk buying.”
Lucky for those Millennials, Ficacci has a whole slew of delicious offerings available in pre-packaged containers. In fact, roughly 30 different Ficacci options are on the market, with 20 of those being different recipes of olives from black, green, mixed, pitted, whole, and stuffed varieties. The company deals only with Italian and Greek olives in the United States, providing some of the best options on the market.
“We also have a complementary line of antipasti, which includes roasted tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, dolmas, lupini beans, Muffuletta, olive Bruschetta, and tomato Bruschetta,” Giuseppe added. “We also have chocolate-dipped olives made for the holidays, which is a very surprising combo that showcases our creativity. We are working to develop some different stuffing recipes as we do our best to innovate a category that has not evolved much in the past several years.”
With a track record like this, it’s difficult to imagine why any retailer wouldn’t partner with Ficacci Olive Co. For more updates from this innovative company, keep checking in with us at Deli Market News.