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South African Extra Virgin Olive Oil now more affordable than imported EVOO

31 July 2023

The SA Olive Industry Association reports that due to last season’s poor harvests in Spain - the world’s biggest Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) producer - and the fact that the Rand has depreciated over time, South African EVOO is, for the first time, now less expensive than imported EVOO. 

The price of imported EVOO exceeded that of local EVOO in October 2022 when it became clear that there would be no carry-over of stock in Spain and that olive buds were not forming well due to an unprecedented lack of rainfall.  According to a July 2023 Financial Times article about the recent price of olive oil, it states, “Spain produced just 620,000 tonnes of olive oil during the 2022/23 harvest, down from 1.5mn tonnes the year before.”

While a misconception that imported EVOOs are better than local EVOO still prevails, this is being quickly dispelled by regular news about South African EVOOs winning international quality awards and, in some cases, proving that they can compete with the best in the world.  The new pricing regime is good news for the local industry as Chairman of SA Olive Richard Allen attests: “Our local farmers are beginning to reap the rewards of their hard work not only in terms of winning international accolades in major olive oil competitions around the world, but also now that their prices are more attractive.  It’s time for South African consumers to reap these benefits too and to enjoy all the health, taste, and supreme quality benefits that our local liquid gold offers them.”

While the comparatively lower prices of seed oils may seem attractive to some people, the reason for the higher retail price of EVOO is its superior quality and higher production costs. Olive trees start bearing fruit from three years onwards; harvesting is a hands-on and very labour-intensive process; and expensive specialized machinery is required for the extraction phase. For olive oil to be Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the olives must be processed within a very short timeframe from picking and there is no room for error. Overall, making EVOO is a process with stringent quality parameters and much attention to detail, and the end-product demonstrates this.