Culinary Chronicles

Why is Olive Oil so expensive?

Olive Oil is one of the world’s most sought after ingredients. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a staple in Mediterranean cuisine, one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. Its taste, flavour profile and high concentration of heart healthy Oleic Acid make it a chef’s dream. Why then is Olive Oil so expensive? Is it because of where it is manufactured? Is it because olives have multiple uses? Or is it a combination of these and many other factors? The short answer is all of the above and more. Let’s then in today’s post investigate the reasons for this wonder ingredient’s high price.

 

  1. Olives are not exclusively grown for oil production

One of the biggest reasons why olive oil, and extra virgin olive oil in particular, is so expensive, is that the Olive fruit isn’t grown solely for oil production. Olives as a fruit are consumed in many ways. Pickled olives in brine, raw green olives and ripe olives, among other forms of the fruit are consumed as part of the Mediterranean diet. Olives are also a key ingredient in Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese cuisines. As you see, because olives are not a single purpose fruit, the supply of these for oil production is limited, and a key reason for its expensive nature. 

 

  1. Olive harvest is hardly ever a mechanized process

Economies of scale dictate that mechanized farming helps reduce growing cost. The same cannot be said of the Olive tree. Olive trees grow in rough terrain and often at angles on mountain sides. This makes harvesting olives an extremely manual task. This is because the terrain in which they grow does not support mechanized harvesting. This is an added cost for olive farmers, and hence adds to the final sale price of Olive Oil. 

 

  1. Cold press method of extracting Olive Oil uses a lot of olives

Cold pressed Olive Oil ensures the highest quality of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It doesn’t use chemicals in the extraction process, and preserves the colour, flavour profile and aroma of the resultant oil. However this method of Olive Oil production does use a lot of Olives. On an average it takes 9 -11 kilograms of Olive fruit to extract 1 litre of Olive Oil in this process. This means the yield of several trees goes into making a small quantity of the precious oil. This is another major reason for why Extra Virgin Olive Oil is so expensive. 

 

  1. It is the small things in the Olive farming process that add up

In a recently published article on Huffington Post, Lucia Gamez, head of exports at organic olive oil cooperative Ecológica La Olivilla and producer of Dehesa de la Sabina, noted that while a standard yield for olive oil production is around 20 percent to 22 percent, the yield for their premium organic olive oil is 12 percent to 13 percent. “It all goes back to the way we do it,” Gamez said. In addition to this, it is things like the climate, soil composition and pests that affect the quality of the produce. Farmers often have to spend a premium on ensuring that the delicate ecosystem required to grow quality olive fruit for oil production is maintained. 

 

  1. Country of origin, sustainably farmed, organic and other considerations

The best Olive Oils are single origin in nature, which means they are grown, processed and bottled in one country / place. The best Olive Oils are from Italy and Spain. Single origin olive oils are therefore more expensive than oils whose labels say, ‘Packed in the EU’ or ‘Product of the EU’. Oil produced from sustainably grown or organic olives are typically more expensive. Organic / sustainable farming practises are typically free from the use of artificial pesticides and fertilisers, making them environmentally friendly. This also means that these farming practises are more expensive than commercial farming techniques, adding to the premium of the oil produced from them. 

 

  1. Demand always outstrips supply

The demand for Olive Oil around the world has seen exponential growth. Meanwhile the supply of quality fruit for oil production hasn’t kept pace with said demand. Simple economics therefore dictates that as long as demand > supply, the price of Extra Virgin Olive Oil will keep increasing.

 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, while expensive, is a healthy, tasty and gourmet ingredient everyone must experiment with. We at Chenab Gourmet are huge fans of EVOO and our range of single origin Extra Virgin Olive Oils (Dolce Vita EVOO from Italy & Sol EVOO from Spain) are a great point to begin your exploration of this liquid gold. 

 

 

Dolce Vita Italian Extra Light Olive Oil

3,315.00
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Dolce Vita Italian Pure Olive Oil

1,735.003,315.00
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Dolce Vita Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1,865.00
Select options This product has multiple variants. The options may be chosen on the product page

Sol 100% Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil

995.0012,375.00
Select options This product has multiple variants. The options may be chosen on the product page

Sol 100% Spanish Olive Oil

555.007,124.00
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Sol 100% Spanish Extra Light Olive Oil

3,218.0015,085.00
Select options This product has multiple variants. The options may be chosen on the product page

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