Colavita, founded by Giovanni and Felice Colavita, began life in 1938 in Sant’Elia a Pianisi, a small village in Molise, as a small olive mill.
In 1947, the oil mill was joined by the company’s first industrial processing plant, the first of its kind in the Molise region.
In the 1960s, after further investment, Oleifici Colavita became one of the top 10 olive oil refineries in Italy.
This stage of the company’s history was marked by the involvement of the second generation of the Colavita family, with Enrico and Leonardo combining the continuation of the core business of olive oil refining with consolidation of the domestic bulk oil market, as well as setting forth strategies for opening up a new market for own-label products.
The two brothers decided to find out whether these new products might appeal to international markets, starting from the USA, where, in 1977, they found their first foreign partner and stared distributing Colavita label oil.
Even before the virtues of the Mediterranean diet became renowned worldwide, between the late Seventies and early Eighties, Colavita built up a vast sales network that started out from the USA, Canada and Australia and gradually spread towards Japan, South America and the whole of Europe.
At the end of the 1980s, the Colavita brand strengthened its reputation as a benchmark for Italian quality products worldwide.
Considering this expansion of its distribution network, in 1986 the company decided to build a new packaging plant in Campobasso.
The Colavita brand range gradually expanded, with the introduction of new products such as Modena balsamic vinegar and vegetables preserved in olive oil.
This prompted the decision to found a new company, “Moliseconserve S.r.l.”, in order to embark on the production of a range of products entitled “I doni dell’olivo”, an appetizing variety of pâtés and specialities preserved in oil. The range obtained the OSCAR CIBUS ’91 award, a prestigious accolade for the finest gourmet speciality produce inspired by tradition and perfectly in keeping with Mediterranean dietary habits.
In the meantime, further developments on the market led Colavita, in 1998, to purchase a large facility in Pomezia (Rome) for packaging the oils, the second-largest facility in Italy in terms of production and storage capacity.
Faithful to their philosophy of supporting projects to preserve, safeguard and promote Italian culture and cuisine abroad, in May 2011, the Colavita family inaugurated the “Colavita Center for Italian Food and Wine”, an Italian cooking school located within the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, NY, one of the oldest and most authoritative cooking institutes in the world.
The “Colavita Centre for Food & Wine” remains one of a kind in the world to this day, a Tuscan-style villa built within marvellous parkland just a few hours away from NY and dedicated to the study and promotion of genuine Italian regional cuisine, wine and culture in the USA.
The villa contains a classroom that can host up to 100 students, a restaurant open to the public, which received an award in 1995 as America’s finest restaurant, multimedia classes and a kitchen where lessons are held, as well as a library where books can be consulted and demonstrations and wine tasting sessions held.
In 2003, with a view to developing the Italian market, Colavita S.p.A. purchased Santa Sabina, an oil business and brand with a long tradition in the Lazio region.
In 2008, thanks to the collaboration with SIMEST, the company acquired control of Colavita USA L.L.C., for many years its distributor in America. This acquisition strengthened the company’s presence in the USA by giving it direct control over the American market, as well as adding a number of important Italian brands to the portfolio of products imported. Today, Colavita USA is an important logistics hub and a benchmark importer and distributor of prime-quality Italian products and brands.
This impressive growth allowed the American company to purchase a new, larger facility in 2010, in which production lines were also installed in order to meet the requirements of new market segments, and in 2015, a new facility was purchased in California to optimise distribution throughout the USA.
Today, Colavita is one of the few international brands in the oil sector, present in almost 70 countries worldwide and recognised in many of these (USA, Canada, Australia and South America) as market leader in the 100% Italian oil segment.
This is the history of a growing company, which continues to expand today with the third generation of the family at the helm. From the early days 75 years ago, Colavita has continued to evolve in pursuit of new markets and new opportunities, while continuing to nurture its roots in Italian culture and tradition.