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Major Olive Oil Company Scores UK Marketing Coup

MEDIA RELEASE
Thursday, March 16, 2006

Major Olive Oil Company Scores Marketing Coup To Tesco In The UK

New Zealand’s largest producer and processor of extra virgin olive oil, The Village Press of Hawke’s Bay, has finalised a deal to supply its oil to major UK supermarket chain Tesco, a deal which marks a significant breakthrough into the UK’s £48m (NZ$129m) olive oil market.

The initial supply is for 13,200 500ml bottles into 500 Tesco stores, which represents a doubling of the company’s previous annual exports to that country.

The Village Press has had a presence in the UK market for two years with its high quality, extra virgin olive oil being sold in the top-of-the-range delicatessens of Sainsbury’s, to whom it sold 12,000 500ml bottles last year.

The company annually exports 60 per cent of its product. This year it expects to export 36,000 litres or 72,000 500ml bottles and is fielding queries from brokers internationally following the Tesco deal.

The Village Press exports to seven countries: UK, US (West Coast), Canada, Thailand, Singapore, Australia and the Pacific Islands. It supplies international airlines Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Thai Air Catering.

Chief executive officer Wayne Startup said the Tesco deal was highly significant to both his company and to New Zealand.

“It reinforces The Village Press’ international credibility with other markets we are expanding into because we have shown we can supply a competitively priced, quality extra virgin olive oil in large quantities all year round. As a result, we are already getting inquiries from brokers in other countries.

“Our ability to supply year round is in contrast to the problems that Spain and Italy are experiencing in maintaining supply because of their recent droughts.

“New Zealand olive oil is making its mark in other countries because of its unique and intense flavour, a result of our maritime climate. New Zealand also has a solid reputation for food safety and product traceability.”

Future export and airline catering opportunities were also likely from the recent certification of The Village Press processes as meeting both Kosher and Halal standards, Mr Startup said.

The Village Press operates olive grove syndicates with 30,000 trees on 45 hectares in the Hawke’s Bay. It also sources olives from five independent growers in the Hawke’s Bay and six in Marlborough. The company bottles only the first, cold-pressing of its olives, this pressing being labelled “extra virgin”.

The Village Press expects an exponential increase in its olive oil production from 40,000 litres last year to 60,000 litres this year. This is in comparison to the overall annual New Zealand harvest last year of 150,000 litres.

Last year The Village Press expanded into Australia to represent a group of South Australian olive growers, marketing their olive oil under the associated company The Village Press Pty Ltd.

“South Australian olive oil from a more Mediterranean, Continental climate is softer in flavour than the New Zealand product and more suited to restaurant cooking where the flavours of the oil should compliment and not compete with the flavours of the food,” Mr Startup said.

In New Zealand, The Village Press extra virgin olive oil is sold in Foodtown stores in Auckland and in larger New World outlets, New Zealand wide.

The company’s presses are based at Sileni Estates Winery on Maraekakaho Road, near Hastings, as part of a partnership between the two companies which sees The Village Press olive oil used as an integral part of the Sileni Restaurant cuisine and sold in its gourmet cellar store.

ENDS

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