Would you pay 15,000 for a bottle of olive oil from Greece? Wendy Bounds and Charles Passy discuss what makes this olive oil cost a pretty penny; it's all in the packaging.
An olive oil that costs more than a first-class ticket to Greece, the land of all things olive? That's what the company behind Lambda, billed as "the world's first personalized olive oil," is offering -- for $15,000 ($147 per teaspoon). And this is no simple bottle of salad dressing, says maker Speiron, which calls it "a luxurious way to enjoy life." Speiron sources the oil right down to the particular trees the olives are harvested from, and presses and bottles it to preserve "maximum freshness and fruitiness," says a company spokesperson. (The brand also classifies the oil as ultra-premium, a category that goes beyond extra virgin.) But what really distinguishes Lambda, the brand notes, is the packaging: The nearly 17-ounce bottle is embossed with the recipient's signature and comes in a lacquered case with a gold nameplate.
A Taste of Reality:
While the demand for olive oil is starting to rival that of wine among the culinary cognoscenti, most experts say a great bottle can be had for $20 or so. Zingerman's, a Michigan-based purveyor that carries an extensive selection of high-end oils, says its priciest offering goes for $60 -- and comes from an Italian producer that releases only 2,000 bottles a year. As for the packaging, the foodie crowd doesn't seem impressed. "It's marketing, fashion, what have you," says Judy Ridgway, author of four books on olive oil. But that's precisely the point, counter Speiron execs. "This is for very special people," says a spokesperson.