Written by Michael Bradley
Our goal is to make the finest, freshest, most broad selection of extra virgin olive oil in the world accessible to the serious consumer at prices that are both reasonable and affordable.
Veronica Foods Company (Supplier of The Olive Oil Co., and many other olive oil specialty stores across North America) was founded in New York City in 1924 by Italian immigrant Salvatore Esposito. The Delizia olive oil brand was transferred from Naples, Italy and registered in the United States in the same year.
The Esposito family, which had grown to include four sons and two daughters, moved west to Oakland, California, in the late 1930’s with hopes of building the first olive oil mill in the United States. Those plans were put on indefinite hold when three of the four Esposito sons joined the military at the beginning of WWII.
The direction of the business remained the same under the capable hands of the eldest son Anthony Esposito. The olive oil portion of the business continued to exist as a remnant of an honored family tradition, accounting for less than six-tenths of one percent of company’s business during the mid 80's.
In the late 80’s the company took a renewed interest in olive oil as a viable business, and not just to honor a point of family history. Olive oil selection and understanding had always been the exclusive province of Anthony Esposito until his retirement in 1989 when the third generation, ours, stepped up to head the Company.
My wife Veronica (granddaughter of the original founder Salvatore Esposito) now CEO, and I, Michael Bradley in the president’s office, were faced with a decision: either abandon or sell off the tiny olive oil portion of the business, or become involved in a more committed and serious way. We were forced to admit that we knew very little about the subject and would have to learn from scratch if we were to continue. It was a fateful decision that changed our goal for the company, which evolved into the quest to identify and bring to market the finest examples of olive oil in the world at prices that we found sane and affordable.
We needed to develop a new more practical understanding of olive oil that placed a greater emphasis on application and performance and less on appellation or domain. We focused on the discernible differences in flavor, function, and durability by tasting and comparing oils from different regions and countries without the benefit or handicap of knowing where the oils were produced. We found a treasure trove of styles and varieties unknown outside the local area where they were produced and reigned supreme. In a very short time we became obsessed with olive oil.
Over the last few years, we have tasted, and continue to taste on a daily basis, the best oils that we can find from Chile, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, California, Cypress, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Syria and Tunisia. We celebrate the diversity and difference in olive oil styles. In our travels we have found there is no mill anywhere in the world that does not sincerely believe, when conditions are just right, that they alone produce the finest olive oil in the world. The proverbial five thousand year old book on olive oil is still being written, and in some cases rewritten.
In 1997 we purchased an olive grove less than sixty nautical miles from Sicily near the ancient Mediterranean city of Carthage in the North African country of Tunisia to build an olive oil mill for testing and evaluating the methods that we chronicled in our extensive travels throughout the olive oil producing regions of the world. In October of 1998, Veronica Foods Company, with its Tunisian partner Medgold, completed the construction of a state-of-the-art crushing mill and nitrogen flushed storage facility.
We continue to produce the finest conventional olive oil, organic olive oil and fused whole fruit citrus olive oils in our mill near the coastal town of Monastir, Tunisia. As producers of olive oil we have formed exclusive international alliances with small regional mills that lack the experience and capital to open and develop markets in the United States. We are proud to present many varieties from small regional mills for the very first time in the United States. We see ourselves as part of a growing family of small but efficient producers whose extra virgin olive oil is finding its way into the homes of Americans (and Canadians :-D ).
Veronica Foods imports more than one million gallons of the finest, freshest extra virgin olive oil every year.