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4 8 Store Brands / December 2015 / www.storebrands.info he Mediterranean is more than just a pretty body of water. It's also a popular heart-healthy diet, and olives are a central part of it. Rich in appetite-sating monounsatu- rated fat, olives also contain antioxi- dants called polyphenols, which research suggests help reduce inflammation in the blood vessels and improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels, according to Reader's Digest Food Cures. Other health benefits relate to possibly thwarting the development of diabetes. Unsaturated fats may improve insulin sensitivity, in contrast to saturated fats, which can raise the risk of insulin resistance, as noted in the Reader's Digest book. And olives, together with pickles and relish, comprise the largest share of the condiments market, with an estimated 38 percent of retail dollar sales in 2014, according to global market research firm Mintel in its December 2014 "Condiments and Dressings — US" report. Trends with traction Beyond having a health halo, olives also appeal to the gourmet impulse in consumers, Dan Kelly, vice president of sales for Tracy, Calif.-based Musco Family Olive Co., points out. 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. This effort could involve packaged products in tubs and trays, rather than jars or cans, that contain not only various types of olives, but also other condiments such as peppers, capers, onions and garlic, he explains. As packaged products, they would not present the safety concerns inherent with olive and condiment bars, Kelly says. "These products will be processed, yet the perception will be one of freshness. 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." Some of the trendy flavor profiles being used here come out of the foodservice arena, Kelly observes. Olives and other condiments are varied and can cross many flavor and texture profiles, including tart, bitter, sweet, spicy, crunchy and mild, he adds. Trends on the horizon Kelly predicts continued growth in store brand specialty olives, as retailers work to capture their fair share of this growing segment and as consumers continue to experiment with variety and flavor profiles. Organic products might finally gain some inroads into what has been a relatively slow start in the olive category, he believes. Convenience will also continue to present a growth opportunity, as consumers look for ways to enjoy olives away from home and also create easy at-home meal solutions. Finally, Kelly says, there is a trend toward better pricing and promotion optimization between brands and store brands to maximize sales and profitability within the category. The olive category typically generates more true profit per square foot than other condiment categories, so optimizing profit and sales through expansion is a must, he insists. "I believe there is going to be a need for better shelf management and space optimization as innovation and new products that fit the above criteria become more available," Kelly says. — D. Cvetan Good — and good for you Retailers could grow sales of store brand olives by promoting olives' health-giving and epicurean aspects. Olives Beyond having a health halo, olives also appeal to the gourmet impulse in consumers.