February 01, 2003
Pebble Beach --Following seven days in December touring the olive groves and mills of western Turkey, Betty Pustarfi, owner of Strictly Olive Oil, was invited to address the Chamber of Commerce in Balikesir, Turkey on the subject of obtaining olive oil recognition and distribution of Turkish olive oil in the United States.
Composed of olive oil producers from Izmir to Istanbul, particularly the fertile groves surrounding tourist Mecca, Endremit Bay, the audience was particularly interested in obtaining recognition for premium oils which up to now have been sold in bulk throughout the world, ending up as an anonymous product under other countries' labels. Brand recognition and Western marketing are new considerations for the mostly rural producers of olive oil.
Pustarfi also visited olive oil testing laboratories in Turkish capital Ankara, met government officials who monitor the exportation of Turkish specialty foods, and visited olive oil retail stores in Ankara, Izmir, Balikesir and Istanbul. She was asked to conduct a sensory tasting in a retail store in Istanbul, since much of the qualification of Turkish olive oils is based on laboratory analysis, not taste and use.
Pustarfi was the guest of Turkish citizen Dr.Yahya Laleli, who is a John Hopkins-educated physician, owner of a huge medical testing laboratory , owner of olive oil groves and a modern mill, and is dedicated to calling attention to the Turkish olive oil industry. His company is called Laleli Olive Oil Establishment, and the oil is distributed exclusively by JRMushrooms & Specialties. Inc. of Sunny Isles Beach, Florida.
In Istanbul, in addition to spectacular ruins, mosques and traffic, Pustarfi visited the famous Spice Market where, for example, exotic spices are juxtaposed with Iranian caviar and Turkish Viagra.
Strictly Olive Oil is a company formed by Betty Pustarfi in 1992 after nine years as a retail gourmet store owner in Capitola, CA. Located in Pebble Beach, CA, Pustarfi conducts specialty food seminars, tastings and is a consultant for all levels of the specialty food supply chain.
For a full list of consultants to the olive industry go to the Consultant Pages