Willow Creek Olives

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Willow Creek Olive Estate awarded at the 2021 Olive and Olive oil Awards

Willow Creek farm and Products2

We spoke to Hester de Wet, the Technical Manager at Willow Creek Olive Estate, to find out more about the secret to their success.

Please tell us a bit about yourself, and your role in the company.

My name is Hester de Wet, and I am the technical manager at Willow Creek . I am responsible for maintaining our FSSC 22000 food safety system as well as a practical health and safety system. Apart from these two systems, I am also responsible for ensuring a top-quality products and new product development.

Please tell us when your company was founded and some of its history?

Our first trees were planted in 1999 and we pressed our first extra virgin olive oil in 2002. Our farm boasts approximately 160 000 trees over 200 hectares of well-irrigated and fertile soil.

We have since 2002 increased our pressing capacity from 40 kg raw olives per hour to 5 - 6 tons per hour with our state-of-the-art Leopard 8 Pieralisie machine! In effect, we went from producing 25 L per day to 16 000 L.

What are some of the unique features of your company?

What makes Willow Creek Olive Estate special is the dedication to our products. Our Master Oil Maker, Francois Cilliers, has been with the company from the start. With over 20 years of olive oil experience, his passion and commitment are evident in all the awards we have won over the past decades. We are not just blessed with Francois, but with his wife, Esolda, as well. She has started at the very bottom as a factory floor worker, and now she’s our very capable Production Manager!

What do you think are some of the unique products you have? 

Our Estate Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a truly special product in two distinct ways. Firstly, the extra virgin olive oil is a beautifully balanced medium intensity oil that wins numerous awards locally and internationally every year. Secondly, it’s packed in a very innovative way! The oil is packed in a lightweight, dark PET bottle that contains an Oxygen Scavenger & UV Barrier that provides the same protection as glass. This patented bottle is squeezable and has a drip-free nozzle that allows perfect portion control every time.

 What are some of the unique features of your manufacturing process and your manufacturing philosophy?

We believe in “want not, waste not”, so every single piece of the olive is used. During the oil pressing process, all our pulp is dried out and reused as compost, along with the twigs and leaves. The pips that are generated during the de-pitting process of fermented table olives are dried out and used as fuel in the water-heater of the olive oil pressing machine.

 What do you think is your distinct advantage or reason for your success?

At Willow Creek Olive Estate, we utilise each person’s strengths to the utmost. Although we believe that everyone should work on their weaknesses, we believe even more strongly that each individual provides a different skill set and we rely on these individuals’ skills as much as possible.

What is the consumer demographic of your products, and what feedback are you getting?

Our products are for the medium to high LSM markets, as it is a luxury product. We have received very positive feedback, especially on the flavoured olive oils. They are always a hit! The market is also very impressed with our Gifting Range, and we have seen an increase of more than 200% in the range!

 Where does your company fit on the global stage?

We are a local producer, but we remain an international player – our awards won worldwide can attest to that. We are slowly but surely making our break globally, with many projects in the pipeline to export.

 In which countries can your products be found?

We have a few clients in Belgium, the UAE, Botswana, and Namibia, but we are exploring more routes to satisfy even more consumers!

 Do you perhaps have some innovations in the pipeline?

We recently launched three Single Cultivar Extra Virgin Olive Oil varieties, namely Mission, Frantoio, and Coratina, as well as a Fig Dressing made from our homemade, naturally fermented fig vinegar and award-winning extra virgin olive oil. Currently, we are exploring some exciting packaging material and an upgrade to our Gifting Range!

Willow Creek All

Contact person: Hester de Wet

Email address: hesterdw@willowcreek.co.za

Contact number: 023 342 5793

Website address: https://www.willowcreek.co.za

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WillowCreekOliveEstate

Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/willowcreekoliveestate/