Front and Center

Keith Loria

The latest buzz in olives and antipasto procurement.

Olives are a healthy and welcoming supplement to meals, party plates and charcuterie boards, as are the main antipasto ingredients, and more supermarket delis are finding ways to capitalize on the category’s rising popularity.

Some of the latest consumer studies show that more than half of consumers expect to find olives in the condiments aisle, and younger consumers also want to see olives in salty snacks and fresh produce as a healthy substitute or addition to their diets. But it’s the deli department where olives can really shine, and savvy stores are finding ways to bring them front and center.

For instance, Bridgeton, MO-based Hussmann Corp., recently introduced its design-your-own Isla merchandiser, which is ideal for cross-merchandising olives and antipasto favorites in the deli department in a flexible way.

Retailers simply offer self-service bins of fresh olives in one part of the merchandiser, and add grab-and-go containers of olives, or items that complement olives, on the shelves adjacent to the self-service bins. This allows customers to grab their favorite olive mixes easily.

Maca Garau Sóbron, vice president of marketing in the U.S., for Madrid, Spain-based Deoleo North America, the parent company of Bertolli-branded olive products, notes that olives are enjoying record sales and that has led to companies like Deoleo bringing more options to the supermarket.


Bell-Carter Foods, craftsmen of the iconic Lindsay brand, is a leading global table olive supplier focused on providing innovative, best-in-class olive products.

“In addition to our iconic Lindsay California-style black ripe olives and Mediterranean-produced Pimiento-Stuffed Spanish olives, we offer premium clean label olives across our Lindsay Crafted and organic portfolios,” says Scott McCoy, vice president of the olive division for the Walnut Creek, CA-based company.

Lindsay olives are available in a variety of pantry-friendly formats including cans, jars, pouches and convenient single-serve cups for both retail and foodservice customers.

“The olives themselves are pitted, sliced/halved, stuffed or whole (with pits),” says McCoy. “The Lindsay Gold Standard can be found on every can, jar and cup, ensuring that consumers experience the best tasting, highest quality olives in every bite.”

Italy-based Ficacci offers more than 25 varieties of olives, bruschetta and antipasti, which can support both olive bars and deli counters, according to the company’s marketing manager and sales director, Giuseppe Ficacci.

“Our Italian quality and offerings offer a big difference compared to our competitors,” he says.
Fiacacco’s grab-and-go items range from 4.4 ounces to 7 ounces, and bulk olives with sizes ranging from 2 pounds to 5 pounds.


Popular olive staples in 2024 follow similar trends of recent years, with Kalamata, Castelvetrano and Picholine leading the way in supermarket sales, according to the latest data from the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA).

Deoleo’s Garau Sóbron says several types of olives are commonly found and enjoyed in the U.S.
“While the popularity of specific varieties can vary, some of the staples often found in U.S. grocery stores include California black ripe olives, Spanish queen or green olives, California green Sevillano, and Kalamata olives,” she says.

Black ripe olives continue to be a staple for U.S. consumers, as well, as they are very versatile and can be incorporated into a variety of recipes like pizzas and salads.

“Tangy stuffed green olives are rising in popularity due to their versatility, as nearly 2/3 of consumers use them for snacking and entertaining, and increasingly so in beverages as a garnish,” says Whitney Atkins, vice-president of marketing for the IDDBA.

Ficacci notes the U.S. market is dominated by pitted olives, and most of the time these olives are stuffed with garlic, blue cheese and red pepper paste.


As new savory flavors continue to rise in popularity, consumers are also more adventurous when it comes to flavor combinations.

Bell-Carter Foods’ McCoy believes there is an opportunity to drive category excitement and incremental purchases by offering these flavor combinations, such as the company’s new Jalapeno and Garlic Double-Stuffed Olives.

“This past year we introduced new stuffed olive varieties, including Lindsay Queen Olives Stuffed with Jalapeno and Garlic and Lindsay Queen Olives Stuffed with Blue Cheese,” he explains. “Lindsay will continue to bring innovative flavor profiles and packaging formats to the category, with increasing consumer demand for health and sustainability in mind.”

“While the popularity of specific varieties can vary, some of the staples often found in U.S. grocery stores include California black ripe olives, Spanish queen or green olives, California green Sevillano, and Kalamata olives.”

— Maca Garau Sóbron, Deoleo North America

Deoleo recently introduced a new line of table olives under its Bertolli brand, including five varieties (Pimiento Stuffed Queen Olives, Blue Cheese Stuffed Queen Olives, Mediterranean Medley Olives, Large Black Ripe Pitted Olives, and Sliced Black Ripe Olives), which are merchandised in the olive aisle of supermarkets. The distribution of Mediterranean Medley Pitted Olives and Large Black Ripe Pitted Olives is also ramping up.

All of Bertolli’s olive varieties can be found in grocery stores in the olive aisle,” says Garau Sóbron. “Packaging is dependent on the variety/type of olive. Bertolli’s black olives are packaged in tins, and Bertolli’s queen green varieties in glass jars.”

Ficacci says his company has revolutionized the deli category through the use of innovative eco-friendly paper trays that preserve olives in the same way as traditional plastic trays, but with 85% less plastic.

“Ficacci believes in sustainable nutrition as well as healthy products, that not only taste good, but also feel good. All our products are fresh and manufactured without the use of preservatives, flavor enhancers, and coloring agents,” says Ficacci.


Lindsay continues to focus on increasing awareness among younger shoppers, reaching new consumers with recipe ideas and usage inspiration via its social and digital platforms.

“We are also actively collaborating with our retail and e-commerce partners to drive awareness of olives as a healthy addition to any eating and dietary lifestyles,” says McCoy. “Continuing to show up in relevant moments — such as charcuterie and board occasions, beverage skewers, new flavor combinations and on-the-go options — is more important than ever for driving category penetration and keeping olives top of mind.”

The company also encourages consumers to include olives in old and new recipes, as they are an excellent and healthy enhancement to any meal.

“Showcasing different olive varieties with their accompanying recipe ingredients — such as Black Ripe Olives with taco accompaniments, Kalamata Olives for a Greek salad or Lindsay Crafted Medleys with cheese and charcuterie pairings, are the perfect way to cross-merchandise throughout the store,” says McCoy.

There are many things Deoleo says retailers should be doing to encourage growth in the category and increase demand for olives store-wide.

“Start with eye-catching packaging — use attractive and informative packaging that highlights the quality and origin of the olives,” says Garau Sóbron. “Clear labeling is also important. Clearly communicate key information such as the olive variety, flavor profile, usage and any special characteristics.”

The IDBBA recommends offering in-store tasting sessions.

“Allow customers to sample different olive varieties to encourage trial and purchase,” says Atkins.

Social media campaigns can also be big drivers toward olive purchases in a store. Utilize platforms like Instagram, Facebook and TikTok to showcase visually appealing images of dishes featuring olives, along with recipes and serving suggestions.

Garau Sóbro recommends partnerships with food influencers and bloggers to create content that highlights the versatility and taste of olives.

Cross-merchandising can also be a powerful strategy to boost sales by showcasing olives alongside complementary products, such as cheeses and charcuterie, wine and spirits, snack aisles, fresh produce and olive oil and dressings.


The shelf life of olives can be affected by several factors, such as product quality, storage conditions and packaging.

Fresh olives have a shorter shelf life (around 240 days) compared with glass jar pasteurized olives (1,080 days) according to Ficacci; however, consumers fall in love with taste and freshness, allowing a faster sell-out.

So, while most olives found in deli departments have short shelf lives, many olive manufacturers offer different options throughout the store.

Most Lindsay olives are packaged in tin cans and glass jars, which allows for an extended shelf life of three to four years.

“Canning processes and quality standards like ours ensure that our products are packed at the peak of quality, so consumers get to enjoy the same great taste and freshness all year round,” says McCoy. “Newer single-serve packaging solutions result in less shelf life but offer the same healthy and delicious olives that our consumers love in a convenient, portable format.”

Olive bars have been a popular feature in grocery stores and specialty markets, allowing customers to choose from a variety of olives and create custom mixes. As such, a majority of consumers still think of olive bars when they go to a grocery store, but Ficacci says the pandemic played havoc with that segment.

“Olive bars have been either removed or re-sized, surviving in metro areas,” says Ficacci. “However, they will never bounce back to the glory of the old days.”

Still, many grocery stores, such as Wegmans and Giant, continue to find success with large olive bars in many of their stores. The IDDBA supports this, with the latest figures showing sales from olive bars are at the highest point since the pandemic and have almost returned to pre-pandemic levels for some stores.


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