One task I have that I wish I had more time for is getting out and talking to our customers. I enjoy seeing their olive oil stores, hearing what is and what is not working for them, and most of all, what new products they'd like to see. When The Olive Oil Source started, it was all about selling hard-to-find equipment for producing olive oil to the fledgling olive oil industry in California. Starting in about 2009, however, we began to get a lot of inquiries from tasting bars, gourmet shops, and private labelers to start offering a broader array of single varietal, organic, and flavored olive oils, and wine and balsamic vinegars. It turned out that the existing suppliers of these products to tasting bars and other stores were not satisfying demand and/or their service was lacking in some way.
It was quite easy for us to ramp up our olive oil offerings but on the vinegar and balsamic vinegar front, we had to learn about the industry, producers both foreign and domestic, and develop a supply chain of products we could be proud of offering. This included, among other things, going to Italy, meeting producers and trying their products. We did all that and now have a broad array of regular and balsamic vinegars available. This would have never occurred without direct contact with customers who asked us to pick up this balsamic vinegar or that olive oil. Of note is that many of these interactions were not with our existing customer base but disgruntled customers of other suppliers.
As a result of listening to these requests, the food sales side of our business has grown to the point that it now dwarfs any other sector of the company. Some of the more recent requests have been for Harissa and Herbes de Provence flavored olive oils and Date Balsamic Vinegar. Although these client requests were made some months ago, it takes us a while to work out the exact flavoring process to get the best results. I want to thank all the customers who have requested a specific product and encourage others to do so whenever they find something they'd like to see us carry. Here is a photo of a tasting bar that does extremely well with our single varietal oil offerings.