Costco Going with Greece for Kirkland Signature Extra Virgin Olive Oil

April 30th, 2015 · 11 Comments

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.

New label for Kirkland Signature's Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil

New label for Kirkland Signature’s Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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!

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11 Responses so far ↓

  1. 1 Joann lambros // 2015.11.01 at 7:47 pm

    We are ecstatic that Costco has switched to Greek olive oil and shocked to read that some are complaining about its taste and quality. The Kirkland branded Greek olive oil is excellent in quality, freshness, taste and low acidity. People who don’t know what good olive oil is may not be used to the single sourced tasty and peppery Greek oil as so much of the so called top quality ” Italian” oil is simply a mixture of oils from Tunisia, Spain and Greece (the Greek oil is added to improve taste and quality) as well as Turkey. I will admit, however, that in the past Costco has carried a few private branded Greek oils that do not compare to the Kirkland branded Greek oil.

  2. 2 Styles // 2015.08.27 at 4:57 pm

    80% of greek olive oil is extra virgin….far more than italy and other countries globally. That’s why greek oil is imported to italy and mixed with low quality italian.
    If anyone want to learn about quality of greek extra virgin oil has just to see the records of international organizations or simply wikipedia…

  3. 3 gm // 2015.07.21 at 9:52 am

    I have been buying Greek oil for years, as I find it superior in quality. I’m very happy that Costco is offering this . I have bought it already and currently enjoying it .

  4. 4 Guy M // 2015.07.19 at 10:23 am

    It is rare that I have a reason to criticize Costco, but the transition by Costco from Kirkland Signature Extra Virgin Italian Olive Oil to Greek produced olive oil is a disaster. We made a side by side comparison taste test with our new bottle of Greek olive oil, expecting an insignificant difference. Wow, were we wrong! The results were astounding, with the Italian olive oil being so much better, more flavorable, and obviously of a higher quality. The Greek olive oil was horrible, suitable only for being returned to Costco.

    • 5 Cindy // 2015.07.26 at 8:51 pm

      I just opened my new bottle of Kirklands Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil and it smells and tastes terrible too. What a disappointment. I hate to return it, but I sure can’t use it.

    • 6 Jo // 2015.08.26 at 7:20 am

      You should know that what they call Italian olive oil is mostly Greek. If you do some research you’ll find that Greece exports large amounts of olive oil to Italy and the Italians mix it with a little of their own and call it Italian.

    • 7 Toxqui // 2016.01.03 at 11:24 pm

      60 minutes had a special Today on Italian so called “Extra Virgin Olive Oil”. Did Costco Know Italian Olive oils where junk and switched to Greek. I personally started buying the greek and good thing. Why would anyone want to buy fake italian olive oil.

    • 8 michael leventis // 2016.07.10 at 8:31 am

      you really have no clue of what you are talking about. i am greek, my family produces a rare 250 kg only agroelaio extra virgin. so i’m an expert. costco is 100% authentic. because you are used to mixed oil garbage is tastes different to you. i put costco greek through all the tests. first and foremost putting it in the fridge and see if it firms up. it passed. if you like fake olive oil keep going. maybe that hint of corn oil in the “italian” does is for you. just don’t post anything you are clueless about. the people reading are consumers.

  5. 9 pamela barrows // 2015.07.11 at 12:33 pm

    I just opened a bottle of Kirkland’s Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil and it tastes rancid and bitter! I WILL be taking it back, something I almost never do.

  6. 10 Nicola // 2015.05.16 at 8:22 am

    Oh, bummer, higher quality EVOO and lower price too! ($2 less here in San Francisco)

    For years, due to EU labelling loopholes Italy could package and market higher quality Greek olive oil and sell it as Italian. A bit like someone buying up vats of maple syrup from Quebec and selling it from Chicago as an Illinois product.

    @opskito – we don’t consume that much either and keep it in a dark cool place. We’ve gone past the best buy date a couple of times, and you could tell it was still a good olive oil but the flavor was not as strong. All oils will loose their fresh flavor as they sit exposed to air. One possible remedy to oxidation would be to store it in jars filled to the top.

    Greek olive oil is best for salads, as a dip, and as a finishing oil just before serving, i.e., drizzled on pizzas, risottos, etc. It can also be added to various doughs and baked goods for a fuller flavor.

  7. 11 Opskito // 2015.04.30 at 7:08 am

    Good to know as I’ll be in the market again for another bottle sometime later this year. I don’t go through it very quickly — though I do mind the “best by” date — but I always spring for the good (KS) stuff.

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