Season 1 Episode 3

Frankie Gobbee

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This Week's Guest:

Frankie Gobbee

Argentina Olive Group Director

When you think of extra virgin olive oil, does Argentina come to mind? It should. Argentina Olive Group Director Frankie Gobbee says the South American country’s the third largest exporter of extra virgin olive oil in bulk and the conditions are just right for the emergence of a new global olive oil superpower. Lots of lands, a dedicated work force, a perfect climate and then there are those Andes.

Curtis CordWelcome to On Olive Oil, how are you today?

Frankie Gobbee Very well, thank you Curtis. It’s a pleasure to be talking with you today.

Curtis CordWhile most of the olive oil producers throughout the world look to the harvest, and they’re beginning their harvest in many regions, it’s not the case in the Southern Hemisphere where you are. In fact for you, it’s the spring time.

Frankie Gobbee Right, that’s correct. It’s a very good point because as you may know, we work in counter season in the South Hemisphere and in the total work of extra virgin olive oil production, the total amount when you get all the countries of the South Hemisphere is no more than 72,000 metric tons to refresh all the world olive oil that is in the other Hemisphere.

Curtis CordAbout 2% of the global production is in the Southern Hemisphere. I believe Argentina produces around 30,000 tons, is that correct?

Frankie Gobbee Yes, that’s correct. One of the big points on this Curtis, is that on the South Hemisphere mostly 90% of the olive oil that produce is only extra virgin and that our plantations were created to born to be extra virgins since day one.

What I mean with this. I mean logistic of harvest. I mean new genetics on the plants. I mean all the preparation, as many people know, to press everything in less than 42 hours and get the best of the olive oil that is the extra virgin.


Curtis CordIsn’t that true with perhaps every Southern Hemisphere production region? Aren’t they all dedicated to extra virgin?

Frankie Gobbee Yes, that’s true. Nowadays everybody is focused on the extra virgin. We know that the world is demanding more of this product every year when we educate the last consumers.

Curtis CordHow did you get in to the olive oil business?

Frankie Gobbee It’s a long story. My family here is very known. My father was one of the people that bring the new olive oil extra virgin production in Argentina with all of the state of the art technology. We started working … I’ve been going to shows and fairs since 2005 and we realized that we need to get more volume to supply a huge market like US. We create our largest consortium exportation group that is called Argentina Olive Group, AOG, and that way we could consolidate a volume of more than 6,000 metric tons to supply nowadays the US market on the extra virgin.

Curtis CordThat was in 2009?

Frankie Gobbee We started in 2009, that’s correct. We’ve been working very hard with a very low budget trying to push our extra virgin and our quality and our volume. These last 2 years were very important, the volume, to the US market. We won several prizes, contest in terms of in Italy, in Spain, also in Argentina, in Chile, in Japan, in New York. We know that the quality of Argentina is really good. We are always investing more and more in the production, in the industry and in all the plantations to try to improve every single day more and more our quality.

Curtis CordYou developed a new brand.

Frankie Gobbee Yes. We created Tangoliva. A new brand, 100% Argentine extra virgin olive oil, that we are working very carefully looking to put this brand, and launch it in this huge market that is the US. We have very good reception and recognition for consumers and we are growing also, yes.

Curtis CordMost of your sales are in bulk?

Frankie Gobbee That is right. Let me tell you some figures, numbers. You know that US right now you can know how much of extra virgin, how much of pomace, how much of olive oil the US imports and you can see that on the numbers from the computer on the customs. What I did this year, I took an average of 5 years since 2005 to let’s say 2014, and I realized that Spain have an average of 16,000 metric tons of extra virgin in bulk. It’s the number 1 country.

Tunisia is the second country with 14,000 average metric tons and Argentina is number three country with 7,000 metric tons in bulk of extra virgin olive. The fourth country is Italy.


Curtis CordInteresting.

Frankie Gobbee Yeah, it’s very interesting because you can see here that the South Hemisphere and Argentina is getting a very strong position in the US market regarding on bulk olive oil. We are doing bulk because as you may know, Argentina is going to change the party politicians at the end of this year and there’s going to be a very good change for Argentina in terms of exportation, treatments and things like that.

We know that we have a lot of potential. We have the volume. Another thing that I investigate was that the price that we are selling, exporting our oil, is the best price right now in the market.


Curtis CordWhat is that price?

Frankie Gobbee That price … If you get an average in kilograms, it’s less than 2.9 kilograms per dollar ($2.90/kg). It’s the … let’s say the less, the best price right now in the country that you can get, a really good extra virgin, with a very fair price. On the other side, you can see that Argentina does not produce olive oil and also they don’t import from other country. As suppliers, these are very good things to know that you will get 100% extra virgin of Argentina if you purchase from us.

Curtis CordIs there still that policy in effect in Argentina, we’ve reported on this a few years ago, where producers are obligated to import the same amount as they export?

Frankie Gobbee Yeah …

Curtis CordIt was a policy from Secretary of Domestic Trade Guillermo Moreno of forcing companies to import and export the same amount of products no matter what.

Frankie Gobbee Yeah, Guillermo Moreno right now is no more the Secretary. We had a reelection a month ago and the official party that is right now in Argentina, government of Argentina, this is going to change. The one that is coming, Mauricio Macri, they want to push a lot all the production and all the exportation and all the agreements and treatments and join venture with a lot of countries. We have a very good future in a short time for Argentina in terms of the commercial on the olive oil and other products, agriculture products.

Curtis CordThat’s good to hear because it’s been tough going the last few years, hasn’t it?

Frankie Gobbee Yes. That’s why we prepare inside our facilities. We invest a lot on state of the technology. We make HACCP standards, international standards, in all our mills and factories. We are working in-house to prepare for next year and the year before that. It’s going to be very, very good years for Argentina in terms of exportation.

Curtis CordWho is your largest account in the US?

Frankie Gobbee We have 2 mostly. In terms of volume? It will be nowadays Sovena or overseas that is Pompeian. That is the number one importer of the US. All those brands they need to refresh their oils, as we were talking before. We are working with them very well. They know who we are. I hope people will know more of who we are and start seeing down here because when you come here Curtis and see our plantation, everybody gets surprised saying, “Wow this is Argentina, I can’t believe it. I thought we only have this is the Mediterranean.” We are very proud and people are very proud here working, sun to sun. Working all the day trying to get the best.

I’m the guy that has to go out of the country and try to push this and show to the people that we are doing our best hard work to get the best quality and the best olive juice to the market.


Curtis CordHow about for Tangoliva your new brand, what is the largest outlet where this brand can be bought?

Frankie Gobbee Tangoliva, right now we have it in Cost Plus Market and in another few individual chains. We don’t have the big budgets in commercial aspect right now. As I told you, we are investing a lot in production and industry but we hope in less than 5 years people will get this Tangoliva on a national level.

Curtis CordWhich cultivars do you use for the Tangoliva?

Frankie Gobbee We use a blend AOG that it’s Picual that is not the same Picual like JaĆ©n. The Picual here in Argentina is very fruity and very good in taste. We use the Coratina and we use Arbequina.

Curtis CordYour production, you have your own production facility? It’s a large milling facility that you have?

Frankie Gobbee I coordinate the whole group AOG. There are 6 largest facilities with their own mills. Here the big thing is that the owners of the plantation are the owners of the mills of the factories. Everybody knows what they have on their tanks and where it came from. The way we have all the trust-ability to supply importers in a good way. The 6 of them has, more or less in average, 1,000 metric tons each one and probably 800,000-900,000 of hectares planting in intensive harvest.

Curtis CordWhat is the most difficult challenge right now to your business, Frankie?

Frankie Gobbee Probably is to people know us, try to come down here, visit our plantations, try to purchase our Tangoliva product and we know that we have much more things to do. We know that we have a lot of potential and Argentina is changing. Next year it’s going to change a lot in the government aspect. We are going to try to go outside more and be more friendly with all the countries, because it’s changing, the President. The people here, the Argentine people are very excited on that and are waiting for the change as you can see on the news right now. My challenge here is to get all that energy and put principal in the US markets as we’ve been doing since 2009.

One of the thing that our plantation have, as I told you Argentina was born to be extra virgin since day 1, so our plantations have different type of varieties in the same plantations. What that means, the logistic of harvest is very good because you start with Arbequina then you follow with a Picual and then you do the Coratina. That way you always press fresh and you always press green and this was think and created as an engineer aspect to get 90% extra virgin. On the other side, when you have different type of variety the pollination is much better.

I think we have a lot of opportunity for partnerships in new market. I know Argentina has demonstrated to have the quality and the quantity to supply extra virgin to demanding customers while we still lack in awareness on the marketing investment in the commercial aspect and that’s our challenge.


Curtis CordYour harvesting is done by machines, you have intensive cultivation there?

Frankie Gobbee Right. The machine that is harvest machines. We use a lot the colossus machine that was created from our Argentine company and it sell all over the world and also side by side. Mostly it’s harvest machines, that’s why those machine works night and day when it’s the time to get those olives out of the trees and press them.

Curtis CordThis is perhaps the most important reason that you can sell your bulk extra virgin for $2.90 per kilogram is the efficiency of the collection of the olives and the rest of your operation?

Frankie Gobbee Yes, and the other thing is we have a land of arability at the most competitive price in the best area. Why I say this? Is there any other part in the world that you can find $5,000 per acre with unlimited underground water in the world? We have beyond this range, 600 kilometers all of sweet water. Where you can find that in the world? This is what we need to tell about Argentina. That’s why I want people to come down here. There is a way that you can produce more extra virgin and quality with lower costs.

Argentina is a non saturate country. We still have more areas to plant. We need more investment. We know that the next government will change that and we will look for people out the country to invest in Argentina.


Curtis CordA few years ago in fact, there was foreign investment in the olive oil production sector and it was such a challenge after all that some of them left.

Frankie Gobbee Some of them left, and some of them they don’t and when you see all the pictures, it’s better to stay because the olive oil business, as you know, you and me know very well, is something that you need to think in long terms.

Let’s say this, Argentina is the largest producer of extra virgin both in South Hemisphere and in America if you can see the volume in terms of extra virgin. You have there a opposition of this country. I think this country still have a lot of things to give to the people in terms of healthy, quality and volume. Also in price.


Curtis CordWhen does your harvest begin? Early April or March?

Frankie Gobbee We start that harvest … We have one of our best harvests and that was a very good things for the market of the olive oil in the world. As I told you Argentina’s the third one that export brought to the US, in countries. Argentina in the South Hemisphere and Tunisia on the other side, was the two countries that help to the market of the world, not the price to go more high. This is because I think we need to start planting in other countries. Start open the minds and trying to go outside and invest in other countries.

Our harvest is April. Let’s say May, April. It depends on the year how it came.


Curtis CordI see.

Frankie Gobbee We finished everything in June and we don’t have full rains in those 2 months or less that we harvest everything and this is very good for quality also, Curtis.

Curtis CordVery interesting Frankie. Thank you very much for talking with us today about AOG, the Argentina Olive Group, and the olive oil production in Argentina. I wish you a good harvest this season and I hope to see you soon. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Frankie Gobbee Curtis I want to thank you, to you, to your company Olive Oil Times, that is always working very hard trying to get all the news from all over the world. I know that that’s very hard to do and you do it very well, everybody see that page. I’m a fan of that, and I’m very glad that you called us and give that time to us to show what we are and what we are doing. Thank you very much.

Narrator: On Olive Oil is produced in New York by Olive Oil Times, the worlds leading olive oil publication. To listen to past episodes, visit onoliveoil.com