Demand for California Olive Oil Continues to Rise

The Golden State is on track to produce a record amount of olive oil this year and growers in the business say they should have no problem clearing their inventory, as Americans’ appetite for California olive oil continues to outstrip supply.

Harvest is underway for many of the state’s olive oil producers, who describe their crop as heavier this year and consistent with the alternate-bearing nature of olive trees. More fruit production, however, typically results in lower oil yield.

Still, they’re expected to produce 4.3 million gallons of olive oil this year, based on the sheer volume of the crop and new trees coming into production, said Marc Gendron, spokesman for the California Olive Oil Council. The state produced 3.5 million gallons in 2016 and 4 million gallons in 2015.

Despite the highest production ever, Gregg Kelley, president and CEO of California Olive Ranch, the nation’s largest olive oil producer, said the sector continues to face “a very supply-constrained situation” with “incredible demand” for California olive oil, which translates to higher prices for farmers.

“I think the industry in California has done a very good job of educating consumers and opening people’s eyes to the fact that California produces incredibly high-quality olive oil at a very fair price,” he said.

Getting to this point has taken time, Kelley said, noting that the state has been producing olive oil for decades but only in recent years has the product been recognized for its high quality. Nationwide sales of California olive oil increased nearly 40 percent from 2015 to 2016, the council reported. More