Across our industry’s leading categories, specialty food producers are finding that despite the current COVID-19 crisis, consumers are clamoring for quality products like never before. In response, California Olive Ranch, one of the largest domestic producers of extra virgin olive oil, is doubling down on its operational efforts to make sure its retail partners are well-stocked with high quality extra virgin olive oil, including its flagship California Everyday olive oil and even a couple of new labels hitting the market now.
I chatted with Michael Fox, CEO of California Olive Ranch, to learn more about how this Golden State supplier is a crucial partner to the buy-side.
“Our number one priority is the safety and health of our team members who are working really hard right now. We’re practicing social distancing and the necessary manufacturing practices. Now, we’re also shifting our focus to support our retail customers and their teams keep up with the significant uptick in demand for high quality olive oils,” Michael began. “In March, we saw an increase of 60 percent growth of the olive oil category, so we’re working to make sure our product is available to the market.”
One way California Olive Ranch is working to support its retail partners is by doubling its production. Alongside its network of family farmers, the specialty foods provider planted two million olive trees in April, which will result in a quarter million gallons annually of California extra virgin olive oil once the new trees are harvested in the fall of 2022.
“While these are plantings we had planned before the pandemic, we are very fortunate to keep our farming and production teams employed and working during this crisis,” Michael continued. “As we increase our production, we’re also continuing our mission of offering high quality olive oils at the most accessible price. We relentlessly focus on making sure every California Olive Ranch bottle is the highest quality possible. This helps us partner with retailers by infusing their shelves with extra value for consumers to tap into.”
This value is only further reinforced by the new labels of 100 percent California Everyday that California Olive Ranch is introducing to the market.
“We’re passionate about investing in California and we think our new labels really showcase that passion. In fact, we are very optimistic about the future of California agriculture and are continuing to invest in our state and the people who live and work here. As such, we’re running fast and furious, and our fill rates are high because we want to help our retail keep the supply chain going,” Michael added. “Our hearts go out to the foodservice sector at this time, and we’re here to support them when they’re ready. On that front, we’re partnering with chefs and donating to folks on the frontlines of healthcare on top of our retail efforts.”
In addition to its three distinct olive oil lines, California Olive Ranch offers an imported pasta sauce brand, Lucini Italia, from Italy. Michael noted that the pasta sauce category has grown almost 100 percent, adding another layer to California Olive Ranch’s efforts to help retailers keep up with consumer demand.
As consumer shopping habits continue to evolve in the specialty foods categories, Deli Market News will keep bringing our industry the latest—so stay tuned!