Branch Out

Olives mesh perfectly with today’s high consumer interest in health and wellness. According to, a website of The George Mateljan Foundation, researchers have identified dozens of health-protecting nutrients in olives.

Olives are an excellent source of monounsaturated fat, which is associated with heart-health benefits, notes a post by Russell H. Greenfield, MD, clinical assistant professor of medicine at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine, in a post on the website.

“Both olives and high-quality olive oil have been studied for their potential beneficial effects on blood pressure and cholesterol levels, their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and their mild blood-thinning effects that may help prevent inappropriate blood clot formation,” he writes.

Trends with traction

But health benefits are not the only things olives have going for them. Olives also are full of flavor — and come in numerous varieties.

“There will be continued growth in store brand specialty olives as retailers look to capture their fair share in this growing segment and as consumers continue to experiment with variety and flavor profiles,” predicts Dan Kelly, vice president of sales for Musco Family Olive Co., Tracy, Calif. “Convenience will also continue to be a growth opportunity as consumers look for ways to consume olives away from home, as well as have easy meal solutions at home.”

Yet another ongoing trend within the category is that toward better pricing and promotion optimization between name brands and store brands, Kelly says, allowing retailers to maximize category sales and profitability.

Trends on the horizon

In the months and years to come, retailers might want to blur the line between traditional and fresh in the category.

“I think that there is a great opportunity to continue to develop products that bridge the gap between the center store olive department and the fresh olive bar,” Kelly says. “These will be packaged products that contain not only various types of olives, but could also contain other condiments such as peppers, capers, garlic, etc.”

Packaging for these items likely will be in tubs and trays instead of jars and cans, he adds, and the products won’t bring with them the safety concerns associated with fresh olive bars.

“These products will be processed, yet the perception will be of freshness,” Kelly says. “The real opportunity lies in the ability to capture the growth of olives and the Mediterranean diet and the consumers’ desire to entertain and dress up dining occasions with appetizers and toppings.”

And foodservice will inspire new flavor profiles as well.

“Olives and other condiments are varied and can cross many flavor and texture profiles [such as] tart, bitter, sweet, spicy, crunchy and mild,” Kelly adds.