Full Name
Giovanni Colavita
Job Title
President and CEO
Colavita USA
Speaker Bio
Giovanni Colavita grew up in southern Italy’s Molise region. It was there where the Colavita brand was born out of the Colavita family’s generation’s old olive mill, which evolved into the worldwide brand it is today. During his childhood, Giovanni was surrounded by the family business and participated in all aspects of olive oil bottling and production from a young age. With the future of the family business in mind, Giovanni earned a bachelor’s degree in Law from Rome’s La Sapienza, and went on to earn an MBA from the SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan. He soon became national sales manager and eventually CEO at Colavita SpA, where he gained the valuable experience that led to his current position as CEO and President of Colavita USA, the company’s USA branch, and founder of a new venture, Italynthebox. Under Giovanni’s management, Colavita USA became not only the distributor of Colavita brand, but the largest distributor of Italian products in the country; representing brands like Baci Perugina, San Benedetto, Dal Raccolto, Greci & Folzani, Niasca Portofino, Rio Mare and Mulino Bianco. In an effort to combine food and wine along with family owned business, Colavita has recently announced their co-ownership with Panebianco Wines a highly regarded Italian wine importer.
Giovanni and his wife Marisa relocated with their kids to the United States from their home in Italy in 2008. Today they live in New York City, where their daughter Lidia and son Leonardo both attended La Scuola d’Italia Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian-English bilingual grade school.
Since his arrival in the USA in 2008, Giovanni has participated in several Italian-American organizations. He has been recognized for his support of Italian products and promotion of Italian businesses in the USA. Giovanni is a member of the Italian Trade Agency, Italian Ministry of Economic Development’s Food and Wine Advisory Board and Food and Finance High School’s Food Education Fund. In 2014, Giovanni was awarded the PrimiDieci-Under40 award, which recognizes the personal and professional success of the most distinguished individuals of Italian origin living in the USA. In 2018, the National Italian American Foundation honored Giovanni with the Special Achievement Award in International Business at their annual New York Gala. The annual event gathers over 700 Italian and Italian Americans from around the country to celebrate the best that Italian culture has to offer and to recognize the achievements of the Italian community in the U.S. The Columbus Citizens foundation honored Giovanni in the 2019 Gala and Annual Columbus Parade in New York.
40 years ago, Colavita was the first company to bring extra virgin olive oil to the kitchens of American families, winning awards and worldwide recognition. Initially pioneered door-to-door back in 1978, this unique "dark olivey green" Colavita extra virgin olive oil made its way into niche retailers like Williams Sonoma, Zabars, Zingermanns and other visionary gourmet stores across the country where the extra virgin olive oil category and craze was born. Colavita was first to market in the USA, and now has distribution in over 80 countries with leadership in the premium extra virgin olive oil category.
Today, 40 years later, Colavita’s priority in sales planning, spending and promotional support strategy remains to be its support of those same traditional brick and mortar retailer customers where Colavita was born and continues to reach olive oil seeking consumers coast-to-coast. However, Colavita has not overlooked the vital importance of diversifying into the emerging e-commerce shopper channels. The modern generation of consumers has been born into a complex and advanced digital age which has changed the shopping landscape and has since tipped the balance of shopping preference from retail store cart pushing to home delivery for ingredients and meal kits.
Over a decade ago, Colavita began allocating resources to forge vital and strategic relationships with Amazon and other e-commerce retailers to ensure visibility and accessibility to these new consumers coming to market and learning about extra virgin olive oil for the first time. As a result, Colavita is now the #1 extra virgin olive oil in the growing online grocery sector. Colavita was the first national olive oil brand to see the future of grocery in the online retail business and to heavily invest into this segment. Colavita's other major strategic partnership in the online space has been with Hello Fresh. As the leader in both quality and volume in the booming meal kit space, Colavita’s partnership with HelloFresh has also contributed to the strength of the brand, bringing Colavita's premium, authentic Italian products into the kitchens of millions of Americans.
Giovanni Colavita