Specialty Food Magazine

JAN-FEB 2012

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 128 of 159

In 2008, the Moroccan government introduced the Green Plan for Agriculture, a program that incentivized farmers in many rural and mountainous areas to switch from wheat or other crops to olive trees. Not only would olive cultivation bring in more income than other farm sectors, but it would also help to modernize the olive oil sector, create more jobs and raise the production of olive oil in Morocco to some 340,000 tons yearly. To further the new initiatives, MAROC Export has amped up its communications to include TV and radio commercials, bill- boards and taxi banners advertising Moroccan olive oil. The strat- egy, already underway in Europe, is filtering to the U.S. "Each year MAROC Export increases its presence and exhibi- tion space at the Summer Fancy Food Shows and this will be the first year exhibiting some eight olive oil companies at the Winter Fancy Food Show," says Nadia Rhaouti, manager at MAROC Export. The agency has also organized a business-to-consumer promotion at New York Metro Area Food Emporiums, which carry several Moroccan products. Future Potential Aside from Mustapha's and companies such as Atlas, the Moroccan olive oil presence on U.S. store shelves is still budding. Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, Mich., for example, offers a North African olive oil selection that has until now been focused on Tunisia, but the retailer is open to new varieties. "I hear more Moroccan oils are coming on the market and that is great," says co- owner Ari Weinzweig. Olive Oil of the World's Moreno has been selling Atlas Desert Miracle, a medium-fruity blend of arbequina and dahbia olives, for a few years. She says the oil is fantastic and certainly has a core follow- ing but there can be challenges to restocking. Morocco's distribution channels are getting better organized, says Moreno, adding, "Once that happens, the market for export will open up, for sure." The consumer palate is being expanded with foods from Morocco as retailers increasingly add the cuisine to prepared-foods menus. Cookbook author Paula Wolfert, a Moroccan food author- ity, just updated her 1973 cookbook The Food of Morocco—and now has a following of more than 2,500 members in her Moroccan Cooking group on Facebook. All these trends point to a receptive consumer audience as Moroccan olive oils make more of an appear- ance on U.S. retail shelves. "People are intrigued by it," Moreno says. "Anything that comes from Morocco has an exotic appeal." "Consumers in the U.S. do not know of the potential Moroccan olive oil has," Mustapha Haddouch says. "The interest is growing, but consumers need to be educated on its flavor profile and how good [the oils] really are."—N.P.D. |SFM| Susan Segrest, Nicole Potenza Denis and Eva Meszaros are contributing editors and associate editor, respectively, of Specialty Food Magazine. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 127 SOME PRIZED MOROCCAN OLIVE OILS Many of these olive oils are available for export; others are making their way to the U.S. ATLAS OLIVE OILS With offices in Casablanca and olive groves all over Morocco, Atlas is a fifth-generation family-owned business that was formed in 1887. An integrated production farm, the company has its own crushing mill and makes 1,200 tons/ year of extra-virgin oil. The low acidic oil is extracted through a mechanical process in low temperatures. Atlas produces three high-end oils. Desert Miracle, a blend of arbequina and dahbia olives, is a fruity olive oil, with hints of ripe fruit as well as almonds, tomato, fennel and artichoke; it won third prize at the International Olive Oil Council's prestigious Mario Solinas Quality Award and two gold medals at the Los Angeles Olive Oil Awards. Les Terroirs de Marrakesh is a well-balanced, sweet and herbal oil that comes from Picholine de Languedoc olives and is used for hot cooking and baking. Arabesque comes from the pressing of arbequina, arbossana and koroneiki olives; it is strong and robust with a touch of sweetness and notes of fennel and artichoke with a peppery finish. atlasoliveoils.com SHEMSY EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL Currently this company, whose groves surround the region of Fez, exports only to Canada and Europe. It uses a vibration comb method to harvest its olives to avoid any bruising or damage. Olives are brought to extraction within 90 minutes of harvest (compared to the normal two to three days) helping to produce fresh-tasting, smooth oil in Mild and Intense flavors. The company won the Silver Olive Branch 2010 for placing second in the Fruity Intense Category, at Fete de L'olivier a Meknes, an olive oil competition in Morocco. shemsy.ma Other producers include: Les Delices Du Saiss, phenicia olive oils (delicesdusaiss.com); Lesieur Cristal Kasbah, everyday olive oil for bread dipping, salad dressings and marinades (lesieur-cristal.ma); Star Olive, Picholine and arbequina varieties (huile-olive-maroc.com); and Tazakourt, makers of Goutte d'Or, a fruity extra-virgin olive oil for daily use (gelacom group. com).

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