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W I L L O W

C R E E K

FEATURE


Squeezing the Willow Creek’s pioneering Gourmet Squeeze olive oil bottle is causing quite the stir – chefs, foodies and kitchen novices alike absolutely love it and the accolades (and sales) are rolling it. The firm hopes to use it as a springboard for growth, says managing director Andries Rabie, who proclaimed, “There is nothing else like it on the market”. By Ian Armitage

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Willow Creek FEATURE

T

here are many inventions that have changed the world – The iPad, the barcode, the microwave, social networking, and the text message have all helped shape the world we know today (South Africans known to be Africa’s most active ‘Tweeters’). Rather aptly, it was one of those inventions, Twitter, which led us to the discovery the next big thing, Willow Creek’s revolutionary Gourmet Squeeze bottle. The Gourmet Squeeze, says its inventor, Andries Rabie, Willow Creek’s managing director, is about to “change the world of olive oil forever”. Rabie describes it as a “real game changer”, which “has already won several awards” including Best Kitchen

A great feature is that it has an oxygen barrier and UV filter built into the brown hue of the bottle to keep the oil’s shelf life of at least two years intact

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Willow Creek FEATURE

Cupboard Must-have and Best South African Product in the 2011 Fairlady Consumer Awards, a Gold Medal at the Gold Pack Awards and a distinction at the esteemed L’Orciolo d’Oro olive oil competition in Gradara, Italy – a special feat considering that other entrants included olive oil masters from Italy, Spain, Greece and Argentina. “People love Gourmet Squeeze for its practicality and convenience,” Rabie says. “The handy 750ml bottle boasts an easyto-use nozzle with a 1.5mm pour opening, which allows you to direct and control the flow of olive oil as desired. Simply unscrew the cap, give the bottle a gentle squeeze and voila – no fuss, no mess.” The unique nozzle allows the olive oil to be poured slower than with traditional olive oil spouts, he says, which has a number of advantages including minimising waste. “It is one of those things that when you have used it once you wonder how you ever coped without it!” The PET bottle is also “environmentally friendly and fully recyclable” and the fact that it cannot break when dropped is another huge plus. It will forever change the lives of chefs, foodies and kitchen novices alike. “A great feature is that it has an oxygen barrier and UV filter built into the brown hue of the bottle to keep the oil’s shelf life of at least two years intact,” explains Rabie. “We want our clients to have a really extraordinary experience when using our products – both in terms of quality and superior taste 4

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and in terms of modern efficiency. This product ticks those boxes.” Willow Creek Olive Estate is known for its award-winning olive oils and its groundbreaking innovation regarding the packaging of their products, he says. “Everybody is going mad about the Gourmet Squeeze. We only launched it a few months ago in South Africa and it has already surpassed all of our other variants in terms of unit sales, even our flagship Directors Reserve. We have a special running with Pick n Pay and it is doing phenomenally well. We are very happy.” Significantly, May will mark the tenth anniversary of Willow


Proud Transporters of Willow Creek Olive Estate Products

It is one of those things that when you have used it once you wonder how you ever coped without it For more information or reference contact details on these projects or any other Grotto assignment, kindly contact our oďŹƒces: Grotto: PO Box 1570, Parow 7499 4 Manchester Road, Airport Industria 2, Cape Town Tel: +27 (0)21 386 1555 Fax: +27 (0)21 386 1606 Email: info@grotto.co.za Web: www.grotto.co.za


Creek’s first venture into the world of olive oil. “I grew up on the farm, which has been in the family since 1781,” Rabie says. “Farming is in my blood and I’ve always had a passion to create something where you can add value. I believe the future of farming lies in adding value not only in the land itself but also in a brand. At that moment in time we were farming wine grapes, table grapes, potato seed and some other vegetable crops. A friend of mine told me about olives and I started investigating it. That was 1997. I realised we had the perfect climate for it as well as soils with 3.5 million parts of calcium, which are probably the highest calcium composites in the Western Cape. It is ideal conditions and makes the fruit intensely flavoured. “Olives became my passion. They are now part of me. I think

Farming is in my blood and I’ve always had a passion to create something where you can add value. I believe the future of farming lies in adding value not only in the land itself but also in a brand

that is what makes us so successful – we are passionate about what we do. I started planting the first trees in 1999. In 2002, I started producing the first oil and from there it has just exploded. We are now about 50 times bigger than we were in terms of volume of oil and we are still growing – we still have to grow another probably 50 percent from our production where we are now. We have come a long way in terms of volume produced.” All the main cultivars are grown on Rabie’s farm, in the Nuy Valley, just outside of Worcester, including Frontoio, Corotina and Koroneiki. “We’ve got approximately 173,000 trees across several varieties including table cultivars like Mission and Kalamata,” he says. 6

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Willow Creek FEATURE

Willow Creek Estate comprises 270 hectares and has become one of the largest estate olive oil producers in the South Africa. “What is our secret? We are consistent, have a quality product that appeals and are innovative. “We are selling predominantly into the local market, but we are actively seeking export, especially with the Gourmet Squeeze. We had a show in Washington in the USA and have an agent there. We also have an agent in Hong Kong, selling into the Chinese market. “Olives are seasonal. In SA we harvest April, May and June, so we are starting soon with a new harvest. Olive oil is always at its best when it is freshly pressed. An intense olive oil can last for up to three years, but

the rule of thumb is a Best Before date two years from production although this varies according to the cultivars and the degree of ripeness of the olives used in the blend. “It is a commodity product, obviously. You have to build long-term relationships with clients and you need to start fishing a year before you catch any fish.” The future, then, is bright. “I have a saying that you have to be the first, the best and different – I like to base everything I do on those principles,” Rabie says. “We are very much looking forward to celebrating our anniversary in May, on the weekend of May 11-12, and have a whole host of events planned. We’ll celebrate in style.” To learn more visit www.willowcreek.co.za. END www.southafricamag.com

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WILLOW CREEK FEATURE  

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