If you haven’t heard, it’s been a really lousy time for Italy’s olive producers. They’ve had weather problems – hot spring followed by a rainy summer – and problems with olive flies that want to munch on the olives. One Italian newspaper has referred to this as “the black year of Italian olive oil”. This all means that production of olive oil is down a whopping 34% this year. Naturally, that means that prices are way, way up too. In March, Italian extra virgin olive oil was selling for about $2.97 a pound, which represents an increase of 84% from a year earlier, according to the International Olive Oil Council.
As you can imagine, this is very bad news for Costco’s Kirkland Signature Extra Virgin Olive Oil which has always been sourced in Italy. In fact, the availability for the extra virgin olive oil that Costco normally purchases to produce their KS product is at just a tenth of the normal level. Spain, the largest producer of olive oil in the world, has had similar weather issues and affects on their olive oil production.
Since Italy and Spain have both had such huge downturns in their olive oil production, it was necessary for Costco to look elsewhere to ensure they could keep up with the demand for their Kirkland Signature Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Luckily, Greece’s olives were not subjected to the same weather woes and as a result Greece will now be taking on the production of the KS Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The good news for those of us that shop at Costco is that Greece’s production will double this year, but the price of the Greek extra virgin olive oil is up just 15% to a relatively modest $1.45 per pound. Phew…we can all still enjoy our giant 2 litre bottles of quality extra virgin olive oil without breaking the bank.
Did you know that Greece is the third largest producer of olive oil, behind Spain and Tunisia (usually Italy, but not this year)? Even though the US is the second largest importer of olive oil, only about 4% of Greece’s olive oil production ends up in the US. While fewer people may be familiar with Greek olive oil it is still highly regarded by those in the know. For instance, at the 2014 New York International Olive Oil Competition, twelve Greek olive oils were recognised with Gold Award status by the judges.
You’ll be able to spot the new Greek version of the Kirkland Signature Extra Virgin Olive Oil because of the change from a green cap and label to blue label and cap and specifically state that it is Greek olive oil. I’m hoping that this change also explains why I couldn’t find the KS Extra Virgin Olive Oil on my last couple of visits to my Costco.
Since Greece consumes more olive oil than any other nation, I’m positive they know how to produce an excellent extra virgin olive oil, right? Let’s hope so since they’ll be responsible for the KS Extra Virgin Olive Oil now!
For more information: