The olive tree has its roots buried deep in human history since 6000 B.C. Olive cultivation originated near the Levantine Sea. This area is now Israel, Turkey, and Syria. Many different cultivars of olive have emerged throughout history. Today, olive groves are abundant in the Mediterranean, California, and Australia.
Most people associate Italy with olive oil. In truth, Spain is the leading producer of olive oil globally. Spain exports the highest quantity of olive oil. They even import to Italy. Companies even package Spanish olive oil as an Italian brand.
Spain produces nearly twice the volume of Italy. These numbers vary based on the weather. Olives require a specific climate to perform well and produce. Today, olive production is scattered around the globe. That means we can enjoy olive oil year-round. The demand for olive oil is increasing worldwide. The supply needs to increase to satisfy the consumer. All years are not high-yield.
Olives require a Mediterranean climate to survive and thrive. Olive trees do best in subtropical climates with dry conditions. This is known as a Dry Summer Climate. Harsh winters have a negative effect on olive growth. They do best when they don't face hard freezes. Temperatures below 15 degrees Fahrenheit can damage fruit and may kill the tree.
Spain is the top producer of olive oil worldwide. They nearly double the runner-up in the total volume of production. In the past, Spain exported much of their olives and oil to other countries. Spanish olives would then be repackaged, rebranded, and blended.
Recent fraud has brought olive oil into question. Now, the rules of labeling are tighter. New rules help consumers to be more informed about olive oil's origin. As a result, Spanish olive oil is getting the recognition it deserves. Spanish olive oil's clean reputation is elevating their demand.
Pure Spanish olive oil is less green and grassy than Green and Italian oils. The oil is generally a light yellow color. The flavor is less herbaceous than Italian varieties.
Italy was the second largest producer of olive oil. But, recent temperature variations have prevented high yields. Italian olive oil brands also import from other countries and blend oil. Italian olive oil should be green and translucent with a peppery kick.
Tunisia is a small country in Northern Africa. For comparison, Tunisia is about the same size as the state of Florida. Yet, olive oil production has been climbing the ranks in volume over the years. Climate change has damaged production in other countries. In 2016, Tunisia ranked #2 in the world’s production of olive oil.
Greece contributes around 10% of the world’s olive oil. Their diet is heavy in healthy monounsaturated fats.
The West Coast of the United States has successful olive groves. SoCal has olives in the high desert called the Inland Empire. Olives grow all the way up to Sacramento. Many varieties of olive can grow in California.
California's agriculture is rich and diverse. The variety of fruit and veg they can grow is very impressive. California’s olive oil production is roughly 6% of global supply.
When you think of olive oil, Australia probably doesn't come to mind. But, Australia is actually making some waves in the olive oil game. They have a high-tech, non-traditionalist approach. The Australian olive oil producers don’t hand-harvest or use stone mills.
What does an Australian olive oil operation look like? Mechanized harvesting, irrigation, and milling. Technology speeds up the process from tree to bottle. In addition, they usually mill and press their olives on site. This approach makes their production fast and efficient.
Many countries grow olives. Each produces its own unique olive oil varieties. Traditional olive oils have their roots in the Mediterranean. Many families stick with classic methods. Adding olive oil to your diet protects your heart and keeps you healthy. When purchasing olive oil, observe the different colors and flavors. You may notice that they're quite varied. Buy single-origin olive oils. Never buy a blended product. Enjoy! Here's to good health!