If it is true that extra virgin olive oil differentiating element from other fats is its antioxidant property, making it unique in nutritional terms, as Olio Officina director Luigi Caricato said, besides its endless sensorial features, one cannot neglect this intangible value. Visual design and joint efforts with marketing should enhance the virtues of this raw material, making them easier to perceive and enjoy for consumers, but also by professional users, including chefs and the “ready meals" food sector.
"Communication – said Caricato – must be clear and effective and conveyed through labels, containers and packaging, without neglecting other cultural mediators. Conveying basic criteria to become acquainted with the ‘matching code’ allows always using olive oil correctly, without any taste imbalances”.
"Today the state of the art is promising – said Caricato – but packaging and marketing still have a long way to go. Such a multifaceted product, being extremely successful on the media, deserves more attention. So far only appearance has been taken into account, no significant investment has been made, especially in functional packaging. Oil producers have never really believed in packaging, in that they have always mistakenly considered oil to be a necessary and not a luxury product. Companies manufacturing materials (bottles, closing systems, labels, packaging) and providing services (logistics, transport, marketing and communication) for the oil industry have not invested in research and therefore have not pushed for something new. A new trend is however emerging and several interesting ideas have been put forward”.
Luigi Caricato also offered a retrospective analysis to show how the contribution of some Italian producers between the 19th and the early 20th century was pivotal, including brands that are still well known. Today Spain is the country dominating the innovation arena, with effective strategies and creative designers working imaginatively and originally, including designer Isabel Cabello.
“Possible strategies - said Luigi Caricato – are numerous and involve several fronts. New investments are needed for olive oils sold in large-scale distribution, where no shelf exists yet that has been designed specifically to enhance and protect olive oil quality. The main issue is the lack of shelves in an isolated area, with controlled temperature, ranging from 10 and 15°C, and the minimum amount of light required".
Furthermore, added Caricato, "The gift industry is not appropriately valued and it should be fostered and promoted throughout the year and not only during holidays and celebrations".
“Oil producers must therefore better dress ‘top-range’ extra virgin olive oils, besides ‘pomace oils’ and ‘olive oils’, enhancing all product categories stemming from olives. Additionally, considering technology allows for it, the HoReCa channel should offer “carts” having their “oil list”, because differently from the past, practical, functional and cheap solutions do exist today, which are easy to be managed”.
In conclusion, Caricato recommended something that should be absolutely taken into account by innovators: " Beauty does not really count unless it is complemented by functionality. The success of innovation lies in the use one makes of it. A real innovation in packaging must be aimed at solving issues and providing solutions. Last but not least, little investment is made in packaging, as the fact is neglected that olive oil also communicates through packing, which is the very first business card of producers and that professional packing is also needed to protect oil and its packaging”.