Dating back to 1500, Masseria Il Frantoio is set among centuries-old olive trees and offers hospitality and food in a charming location. The company owned by Maria Ciannamea manages 70 hectares of organically farmed olive groves with 4,200 plants (many over 100 years old) and also produces excellent rosolio liqueurs and jams. A charming and well-kept context that this year won the "Olive Oil & Tourism" award. We interviewed the company's sales manager Lucia Leone.
What were the main stages in the company's history that led to these results?
The story of Il Frantoio was born 30 years ago, a story of passion for the "good, clean and fair," even before Carlo Petrini labelled this as his philosophy. The passion for tasty and non-trivial products, for food and unpolluted environment, for fairness towards employees, customers and guests, has driven us from the beginning to walk the roads of organic farming, DOP Collina di Brindisi, the denocciolato (pitted) technique, and so on, heedless of the ironic comments of those who thought that we should have instead disregarded such elements, as always.
How can such a level of quality be achieved?
When we started there was little talk about quality olive oil. And as in all areas, where there is study there is improvement. With the passage of time, training courses were born and with great humility we immediately took the opportunity to learn what the olive oil of excellent quality was, and what we could do to obtain it. Thanks to the new technologies used by modern olive presses, it was possible to obtain the best products over the years. Equally important was the presence of an agronomist who knew how to better interpret the needs of the plants and usher them in their growth and production, always sustainable.
How does the company move on the commercial front? What are the most obvious obstacles you faced from this point of view?
Being a farmhouse hotel with thousands of guests from all over the world, the best commercial weapon was to tell our story, show the estate and finally let guests taste our olive oil and explain the production methods. Offering an excellent product combined with effective communication was the winning move. An obstacle, however, are the high production costs, especially in relation to the millenary olive grove and therefore not being competitive on the Ho.re.ca market.
What, in your opinion, are the necessary actions to improve the olive oil sector?
First of all, ensure that the profitability of the olive grower is increased. Enhance the value of Italian olive oil and promote it in the best possible way worldwide with institutional information campaigns aimed at final consumers and operators in the sector (restaurateurs and retailers). Encourage cultivation in order to increase production, create business networks to rationalise costs.
How should communication of quality extra virgin olive oil change or improve? What are the right keywords to increase the use of this product among consumers?
The key word is "nutraceutical." Make the consumer understand that consuming quality extra virgin olive oil can bring great benefits to the body and spirit; olive oil is not just a condiment!
What is your approach to the concept of environmental sustainability?
The air, food and water of Il Frantoio were pure thirty years ago and they still are now, because we have always thought of our children and grandchildren and the children of our collaborators, customers and guests, who deserve to live in a better world. So organic farming, a wastewater purifier, very little plastic and disposable items, raw materials at zero kilometres, possibly wild, heating obtained with our own wood pruning, etc.
by Indra Galbo
Masseria Il Frantoio - Ostuni (BR) - Strada Statale 16, km 874 - Tel. 0831 330276 - masseriailfrantoio.it/