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Olive Oil Under Pressure: How To Keep Your Store Brand Competitive

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Olive oil is more popular than ever as a cooking oil in the U.S., with nearly half of all households using it. But at the same time, a historic drought in Spain and a Turkish ban on bulk olive oil experts means that olive oil prices are also hitting all-time highs. So how can your store brand stay competitive with national brands when prices are soaring? Here are some ideas that may work for you. 

Get the right size

Right-sizing your product means adjusting to the preferences of your consumers. You know them best!  Options include introducing a new, slightly smaller bottle size, or even debuting a new format, such as low-plastic bag-in-box packaging. While packaging adjustments can present challenges to the manufacturer, this option represents the lowest bar to entry for the consumer. Ultimately, the oil they are purchasing remains unchanged. 

Make the grade

Most people are familiar with extra virgin olive oil, the superfood that adds a peppery kick to salad dressings and more. Extra virgin olive oil is made from the first pressing of newly ripened olives, and it is the highest grade – and most expensive – variety of olive oil. Later pressings or later harvests can result in virgin olive oil, olive oil (sometimes called “classic” or “traditional”) and olive pomace oil. Including virgin and classic olive oils in your lineup enables you to offer products with many of the same benefits as extra virgin olive oil, but also a lower price tag. This option may require some effort to help your consumers understand the difference between the various grades of olive oil. 

Bend with blends

One trend that originated in foodservice may be of use to the home consumer: olive oil blends. One of the challenges of using extra virgin olive oil is that it is volatile and prone to scorching at high temperatures. The way restauranteurs have dealt with this is to blend olive oils with heat-stable oils such as soybean or canola. The resulting blended oil has increased heat stability while still retaining some of the flavor characteristics of olive oil. It also has the added bonus of significantly slower prices, by supplementing pricy olive oil with less expensive commodity oils.

Adding an olive oil blend to your brand offerings can help keep you competitive with national brands, and although it does require some consumer education, it relies on oils that are likely familiar to most of your consumers. 

Explore alternatives

If none of these options appeal to you, or you don’t think they’ll appeal to your consumers, it’s time to consider options. While extra virgin olive oil is praised for its perceived health benefits and unique flavor, it’s not the only superstar oil out there. Avocado oil, for example, is similarly extracted from the pulp of the fruit, and has a nutritional profile that is very close to olive oil’s. The one key difference is that unlike the peppery bite of extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil has a mild, buttery taste. Other alternatives abound, and a good oil provider can help you find the right ones to suit your consumer base’s tastes and needs

Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits all answer to the ongoing olive oil dilemma. Until the drought ends in Spain, demand will continue to surpass production, and prices will continue to creep up. Consumers will feel that pinch, and many will explore new options on their own. By choosing options to offer them, you show consumers that you not only understand but anticipate their needs.

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About the author

Sommer Stockton

Web Editor

Sommer joined The Shelby Report in January 2022 after graduating from Brenau University in Gainesville, GA with a B.A. and M.A. in Communications and Media Studies. Sommer is excited to learn about the grocery industry and share her findings with The Shelby Report's readers!

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