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Olives Et Al to stop selling via distributors as climate change creates cost increases

Posted: 8 January 2024

By Michael Lane

Olives Et Al products will now only be available to the trade direct, after the Dorset-based business announced it would no longer be selling to retailers via distributors due to cost pressures.

With the prices of key ingredients like olives and extra virgin olive oil skyrocketing due to poor harvests brought on by climate change in recent years, the Mediterranean food specialist said the move would help it to keep its own prices down.

Olives et Al was selling to independent retailers via Cotswold Fayre, The Cress Co, Holleys, PW Fine Foods and Artisan Food Club.

In an interview with FFD, founder Giles Henschel said that if he had continued to partner with wholesalers, and offer them the margin they required, his products would have ended up being more expensive to stockists and the end consumer.

 “We’re not putting prices up, because that margin we were giving to wholesalers, we’re now passing on to the retailer,” he said, adding that Olives et Al could well return to the wholesaler channel if prices stabilised and harvests improved.

“This is not a geopolitical problem, or a falling out with the wholesalers, this is hard-edged climate change.”

“Olive oil was £3,000 a tonne, then it was £5,800 in October, then 8,000 in November and it’s currently forecast to hit £12,000,” he said, adding that olive prices had also gone up 50-80% in the last 12 months.

Henschel said that the company had also been working on reformulating products across the 180-strong range to combat these increases in raw ingredient costs.

“We are not importers. We buy ingredients from around the world and bring them to Dorset, that’s where the value is added.”

One of the main focuses of revising product recipes was altering the liquid medium for olive mixes by adding brine, so they would rely less heavily on olive oil.

“This is not shrinkflation, we’ve not taken a single olive out. 

“They’re the same weight, the same jar sizes and it’s the same eating experience.”

With the company now celebrating its 30th year, the Olives et Al founder has decided to embark on a motorcycle trip, similar to the one he made with his wife Annie in 1992 that inspired them to set up the business.

This new trip will see the Henschels visit a host of their suppliers across France, Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Sicily, Spain and Portugal, with the aim of gaining insight into the effects of climate change and what can be done to mitigate the effects.