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Company Office Visits...Spanish Style

by Becca Buell Tuesday, April 8, 2014

This past week, our OTM 300 class took a company visit to a Spanish empresa called Basilippo, which produces and manufactures olive oil in Andalucía. The professor of the Strategic Issues in International Manufacturing course had coordinated with the company so that we would be able to learn the steps in the production of olive oil, what countries they distribute to, and what their company culture was like. We left at 9:45 in the morning and returned at around 2:30 p.m. It was eye-opening to see how charming and easygoing the empresa was. We received a tour of the estate, watched a 10-15 minute film of how olive oil is produced, toured a museum and warehouse where the olive oil is produced, taste-tested, and afterward visited the gift shop where we all bought a bottle of olive oil.

Overall it was a really enlightening experience, and it was definitely much different than the company visits I have done in the U.S.: I didn’t have to dress up in business professional or business casual, and the company was on an estate so we were able to walk outside and the weather was beautiful. We were even able to taste-test the olive oil at the end—my favorite thing that I tried was chocolate ice cream with orange-flavored olive oil (surprisingly delicious). We were able to differentiate the company’s competitive advantages and strategic objectives of reaching them through an activity following the visit as well, which was a very clear way of connecting our classroom material.

A few facts that stood out to me in particular were:
  • 30% of their production is distributed to countries outside of Spain, whereas around 70% is consumed within Spain
  • The differences in higher-quality versus lower-quality olive oil, which is dependent upon the time of year that the olives are collected—the best time to collect olives is during “la cosecha temprana,” or early harvest, when the olives are green or yellow-green
  • The estate uses all natural compost, and does not allow chemicals in the olive growing process—they were a very environmentally friendly company in general

Here are a few photos of our visit to Basilippo.

OTM Class at Basilippo
Our entire OTM 300 class at the office visit Basilippo.

Taste Testing Olive Oil
Taste-testing the gourmet Basilippo olive oil.

Basilippo Guide with UW Students
UW-Madison students with our Basilippo guide, learning about olive oil production.