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FRANCESCO PAGLIARO: "THEY EVEN APPRECIATE MY OIL IN NEW YORK"


FRANCESCO PAGLIARO: THEY EVEN APPRECIATE MY OIL IN NEW YORK Rome (Ign) - Receiving praise from one of the most important American newspapers is not something that happens every day. But this is what happened to Francesco Pagliaro, whose small business produces extra virgin olive oil in San Vincenzo La Costa in Calabria, and near Castelvetrano in Sicily. Half Calabrian and half Sicilian, he divides his time between the land that was his father's and his estate in Sicily, where he produces his Le Conche olive oil. In 2002 and 2004 his products were awarded a Special Mention at the Oil Show in Verona, and are appreciated by leading chefs such as Claudio Sadler in Milan, Bernard Fourier in Campione d'Italia, and Dario Ranza from the "Principe Leopoldo" restaurant in Lugano.

So how does it feel to be praised in the New York Times?

Well, it's a great honour. I am particularly proud of the fact that the newspaper from the Big Apple recommended our oil to its readers. In America, as in all Anglo-Saxon countries, olive oil is experiencing a real boom. And it's nice to see that a Sicilian product is one of those appreciated at the top end of the market, such as the clientèle of New York.

Can you tell us how your company started up?

My business is extremely small: I have a thousand trees in total, in the provinces of Trapani and Cosenza. Obviously this is the result of a family passion: my father owned the land, and I decided to take the plunge and start cultivating them. The small size of my company allows me to supervise everything with great attention and deal with all the phases of the finished product. At present, I have a turnover of around €30,000, and hope I can develop fast; I already export half of what I produce to the Switzerland, where a number of restaurants in Lugano have fallen in love with my oil.

What does Sicilian oil need to do to become a product appreciated internationally?

Sicilian oil has received a large number of prizes but is not sufficiently promoted on foreign markets, unlike Parmesan for example. Sicily needs to learn how to manage its excellence with the commitment of the producers, regional funding and above all effective marketing and advertising. Quality is the main objective, but here we are helped by the features of our land. We need to make ourselves known, and the best way to do so is through a new approach to marketing, which associates our products with the culture, history, and landscape of our territory. 

More in general, how can we develop small and medium-sized businesses in the Italian food industry?

In the retail food industry our companies continue to suffer the competition from multinationals in the sector, which can deploy a whole series of well-defined sales and production strategies and synergies, allowing them to make significant cost savings. We, on the other hand, have to continue trying to grow in size, also by means of consortiums and associations. Today many businesses are too small, also because this allows the owner to have control over the entire process, from producer to the consumer. But we need to make a step forward, perhaps with the help of local authorities, and try to implement new marketing techniques, so that we can "sell ourselves" more effectively and increase turnover. Only in this way we will manage to grow significantly.
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