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The headache of a good assortment of olive oils

Organizing the assortment of olive oils becomes a headache almost as complicated as defining a consistent supply of wines. So much so that an olive oil display can become the best metaphor for the modern world complexity (see opposite an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal). Taking into account all the dimensions of a balanced assortment even when the space is reduced, and the consumer is incompetent, is such a challenge that the majority of outlets often present an inadequate offer. Fortunately, AVPA expertise can help in order to organize this universe!

It must be said that the presentation of olive oils must meet 3 dimensions and two requirements and, this, in a small space that still allows to inform the customer or assist the seller, too often ignorant of the keys which enable them to choose the product that really corresponds to an expectation that we don't really know how to express.

- The constraint is the requirement of freshness, which is twofold. Unlike wine, olive oil does not improve as it ages and refined shops with olive oils dating back more than a year are already a long way from the gastronomic reality they claim to defend. But the term freshness also applies to room temperature. The oil is sensitive to light (hence the headache of a packaging that allows to appreciate the color of olive oil but prevents the action of UV) and temperature.

Conclusion 1: Choose a dim light, a controlled temperature and a sufficiently short assortment to ensure a good rotation of the products.

- The assortment must be complete enough to meet 3 dimensions:

- The first dimension is taste! Thanks to the work done by AVPA in collaboration with the CTO, we know that the olive oils world can be described with a maximum of 9 categories. Depending on the specific tastes of the distribution region, it is generally possible to reduce it to four to five categories. However, it is necessary to be aware of the selected categories to propose to the customer the type of olive oil that will correspond to his taste (bitterness or spiciness are particularly discriminating criteria for example) and the use he intends to make of them (you don't take the same olive oil for a green bean salad, a 7-hours lamb leg or a mayonnaise...). Note that we are talking about taste and not quality. Yes French are only buying virgin olive oils but they seem insensitive to the acidity rate and some French producing regions are offering olive oils considered as quality oils whose characteristics would shame a Hellenic or Italian producer!

Conclusion 2: Ensure that the proposed range covers the range of tastes of the customers of the distribution area.

- The 2nd dimension is the image that is defined by a brand, a geographical indication, a packaging. Qualifying brands are rarely recognized by the consumer, but they are increasingly attached to countries of production or even geographical indications. In France, Italian and Cretan olive oils seem to have the favor of an audience that is otherwise very attached to Provence terroirs that remind them of their holidays. The name Spain still seems to be tainted by bad memories that more "regional" presentations, such as Andalusia or Catalonia, could overcome. A historical or political affect leaves all their way to Maghreb appellations, Tunisia or Morocco, which are knowing little by little to find an audience that is far exceeding their concerned communities.

Packaging is so involved in the image that we see producers favoring appearance over basic practicality. For a gift market, still in its infancy for olive oils, it is not necessarily useless to have such objects in its assortment.

Conclusion 3: In France, offer an assortment differentiated by geographical, regional or international origin.

- The 3rd dimension is the price. If a high price reassures the worried consumer, this does not mean that he is always willing to buy luxury oils for frying or for his daily salad. If he wants to "snub" his guests by putting on the table a sophisticated bottle with a prestigious name, he does not necessarily have the same need for olive oil that will remain in his kitchen closet. All studies show that the consumer is naturally attracted to the most expensive or to the cheapest products. The assortment should therefore not offer a regular price pyramid (low price/medium/expensive) but should prefer, depending on the type of clientele, "reasonable" or relatively high prices.

Since with the price is linked the use frequency, it will be easier to correlate the packaging volume (25/50/75cl) with the price and select the most important packaging for the most used olive oils.

- Conclusion 4: Offer an assortment of prices that is sacrificing intermediate prices.

Taking into account the 3 dimensions so quickly described without forgetting the fact that the assortment must have a rapid turnover rate can be a challenge when you know little about the world of olive oils. The Distributor can well know his customers, but he must also be able to "source" the right products. This is precisely the assistance that AVPA is offering by making available to distributors who wish to do so:

- The skills of its tasters to audit the existing assortment, specially by classifying the olive oils to check that the distributor offers a good representative tastes palette,

- Its olive oils library that allows you to find the producers best suited to the requirements:

o Presentation,

o Price

o Production capacity.

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