From "The Hour"
by Ryan Flinn
courtesy of "the Hour" Newspaper - Norwalk,
Hoping to do for olive oil what Starbucks
did for coffee, Marco Petrini, president of Monini
North America, Inc., is trying to convince consumers
to eat more, and spend more, on olive oil. To accomplish
this goal, he has recruited chefs at top restaurants
in New York City to use his products.
Five varieties of Monini's extra virgin olive oil
can be found in specialty food markets and Stop &
Shop. The company even gave away a trip to Italy and
a year supply of its products to consumers who visited
its Web site.
"Starbucks is a fair comparison,"
said Petrini, who works out of the company's Norwalk
office. "But we're still in a growth
phase." The company wants consumers
to seek out higher quality olive oils - and pay more
per bottle - as they do increasingly for their coffee.
Spending $3 for a cup of coffee may be normal for
some people, but several years ago, the idea might
have seemed excessive. By placing an emphasis on quality,
Monini wants to follow Starbuck's path.
If Monini can replicate its success it enjoys at home
here in the United States, then Petrini will succeed
in his goal. He said that in the United States, the
average person consumes 50 ounces of olive oil a year,
while in Italy, the number is 80 times as much. "We
want people to know that Monini is a household name
in Italy, and we want to establish Monini as a major
player in the olive oil market here,"
The company's products include Monini Extra Virgin
Originale, Extra Virgin Fruttato, Amabile D.O.P. Extra
Virgin, OilBios Organic Extra Virgin, and Monello
"Our idea is to start segmenting the
market," Petrini said. Most Americans
use one type of olive oil when they cook, he said,
but different types of oils have different tastes
and are meant for various uses. Monini is hoping to
educate consumers on the different uses for its products
through an advertising and marketing campaign. The
current trend in the market is positive. According
to Bob Bauer, president of the New Jersey-based North
American Olive Oil Association, in 1982, distributors
imported 65 million pounds of olive oil.
In 2002, that number had grown to 475 million pounds.
"People are becoming more familiar with olive
oil," Bauer said. "They see it more at supermarkets
and are learning that it's very healthy." Most
of the market is currently concentrated on the East
Coast, specifically New York. Petrini said 35 percent
of olive oil is sold in the metro New York area. "Olive
oil is compared to wine, because olives from different
areas taste different. Having a lot of choices (in
types of oil) is a good move on Monini's part,"
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