As Americans learn more about the many benefits of olive oil, demand for it is increasing. To meet that demand, many low-quality olive oils, which lack the benefits that make olive oil such a popular choice, are lining our grocery store shelves.
But a local couple is on a mission to educate consumers about the olive oil market while selling their Sicilian family’s ultra premium extra virgin olive oil.
Vitina and Stefano Feo of Gulf Shores work with their family in Sicily to produce and market olive oil under the Mamma Mia USA label. Based on extra virgin olive oil chemical analysis and sensory assessment, Mamma Mia USA’s olive oil is in the top three percent of all extra virgin olive oil produced worldwide — and you can find it in stores across Baldwin County.
Made in Sicily
It all started with Papa Vince, Vincenzo Biondo, whose picture is on the Mamma Mia USA label. Vince started in the olive oil business as an apprentice in the olive oil orchards on a noble family’s orchard.
“Papa Vince did this all his life,” Vitina says. “He had an entrepreneurial mind. When he started, he was working for this noble family, and at the same time he was selling olives on the side. He was a good salesman — very funny and always happy.”
When Papa Vince started making olive oil, it was a labor-intensive process.
“It took three men plus an animal working three days to produce one quart of olive oil,” Vitina says. “And once you picked the olives, you only have 12 hours to start the process. The method of production was so awkward that a lot of olives went to waste.”
In the early 1970s, Vince and his family purchased a centrifugal machine to help them produce the oil faster, and in 1996, more modern technology was installed. But in 2008, Papa Vince’s heir and current owner Vito Giaramida decided to spend almost $1 million upgrading the family’s operation to a cutting edge, eco-friendly, efficient system.Mamma Mia USA extra virgin olive oil,