One of the top packers of olive oil in the entire US is on an old Air Force Base in Rome, NY.
The Sovena Group built the plant in 2007 on the former Griffiss Air Force Base.
The company bought the former East Coast Olive Oil company a few years earlier and decided when it needed a bigger facility that it wanted to stay in the Mohawk Valley.
Sovena VP of Operations Frank Talarico says, “The knowledge we have in this area and the people we have are really the greatest resource.”
The olives are actually grown in the Mediterranean, in places like Portugal, Greece, Italy and Spain.
Sovena mills them within a few hours after they’ve come off the olive trees.
The oil made is shipped by vessel to the Port of NY/NJ where it is sent to Rome via rail car.
Talarico tells NewsChannel 9, “We are the biggest private label manufacturer in the US in terms of oil.”
Jorge Pena is the CEO of Sovena USA, “By packing it here we also gain some extra quality and fresher oil we can provide to clients.”
Pena grew up in Southern Spain where nearly half of the world’s olive oil is produced.
“Even though you were born surrounded by olive oil it’s something that you need to learn,” he tells NewsChannel 9.
The Rome plant runs 24/7 five days a week, producing over a thousand different SKU’s or varieties and brands using many oils and mixes to get the desired flavor.
Sovena USA also makes its own brand under the name Olivari Olive Oil.
Talarico says, “So we’re in the food service industry, we’re in the industrial industry, we supply to other manufacturers, bakers, things like that, salad oil companies.”
“It could be a very good chance when you’re having a salad in a restaurant that might have our product there as part of the ingredients the chef used to prepare that salad,” adds Pena.
On any given day the plant is running some combination of eight lines.
During the past quarter the plant set a record of 30-million liters of oil packed.
Sovena USA is always adding new specialty brands to their offerings like, avacado, grapeseed, toasted sesame and sunflower oil.
Another way they’re trying to differentiate themselves is their one of a kind drip free top that is just hitting the market.
Pena says, “The level of passion that we have here and I see here very day with the people that make Sovena what it is today is outstanding.”
The plant is doing so well Sovena USA is expecting to expand its Rome facility at the Griffiss Business Park next summer.