Meet the producer: Anatolian Olive Oil Company
Ahmed Yusuf runs the Anatolian Olive Oil Company with his wife. It produces Turkish extra virgin olive oil, among other products, and he hopes their company can bring a little Anatolian flavour to Britain.
What were you doing before you launched the Anatolian Olive Oil Company?
I lived in the Middle East for many years and set up an advertising agency in Dubai before moving to Oman where I worked for 10 years as a consultant to the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, department of public awareness. I met my wife in Cuba in 2005 and moved to the UK. We bought land on the coast of Turkey in 2008 and built a villa there for ourselves and our families.
Why did you decide to launch the business?
There were more than 50 old olive trees on the land that we had purchased in Turkey that had been neglected for many years. As we spent more time in the country, we got to know our neighbour – a knowledgeable and enthusiastic farmer – very well. He convinced us to plant more olive trees and to learn how to look after the ones we had. Jointly we bought an olive press so that we could make olive oil on site and control what is a vitally important part of the production process. We didn’t do this with the plan of setting up an olive oil business but as we planted more and more trees – we now have over 500 – we began to produce much more oil than we could use ourselves or give to family and decided to start the company.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned since starting the business?
Keep it manageable and fun. Remember to be thankful and take pride in what you do.
Pressing and producing our own extra virgin olive oil made us realise what it takes to create a premium quality product. It takes time, patience, and perseverance. We continually learn and refine what we do.
What makes your olive oil stand out from others on the market?
We are a small, single estate producer. We control every aspect, from planting, tending and pruning our trees to harvesting, extracting, importing, bottling, labelling and selling our extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). We do it all ourselves because we love it and we take great care of quality at every stage.
The combination of olive cultivars also gives our olive oil a distinct flavour and aroma.
The terroir, the land where we grow our olives, also impacts the flavour. As well as olive trees we also have a lot of citrus trees, peaches and apricots as well as herbs such as rosemary and thyme. These also impact on the flavour.
What was the inspiration behind the other products in your range?
Turkey has amazing cuisine, derived from the Ottoman palace kitchens in Istanbul. We came across mulberry syrup and pomegranate molasses, which have been made by women in our area for hundreds of years. We tried them ourselves, used them at home and saw their potential. We are keen to introduce great flavours to people in the UK.
What is the best thing about being a small business?
One of the things we enjoy most is getting to know our customers. We love hearing what they think about our products and how they are using them. We love to tell them the story of how we got into the business, what makes us passionate about it, and to educate people about our products. Being small also allows us to control production and keep quality high.
…and the worst?
Being a small company constrains the quantity of product available. This means, for instance, we can’t supply to very large retailers. Our size means we can’t take advantage of economies of scale – this impacts our unit costs and ability to discount.
What is next for the Anatolian Olive Oil Company?
This is our third season of producing olive oil. We are looking to expand our range with other high-quality products from Turkey. We will be building a stronger internet presence so people can come and see what’s new. We will also continue to take part in food festivals which give us such valuable feedback from our customers.
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