Why Extra Virgin Olive Oil is Expensive

When producing a premium product, quality trumps quantity and comes at a cost

From maintaining the grove to picking the olives at just the right moment to processing the fruit and getting the oil into the hands of the consumer as quickly as possible (fresh is best), each step must be meticulously carried out to preserve the quality of the oil. These efforts cost the producer time and money. Hence EVOO can end up being expensive.

Harvesting and processing require precise coordination to extract the freshest juice

Once the olives are picked, to preserve quality they’re taken to mills as quickly as possible to be processed.

"The moment the olive is taken from the tree it begins to oxidize and degrade rapidly, and if you let it sit around for a few days or weeks (which happens), the oil suffers," Coleman said. “A common thing that happens on these large-scale, massive industrial productions is they can machine-harvest very quickly, but the mills they have can only accept a certain number of olives.” All this adds to the EVOO being higher quality, and more expensive.

Ratios of Reaping Vs. Selling

It takes nine to 11 kilograms of olive fruit — which is the yield of more than one tree — to produce one kilogram of olive oil. Further, all those fresh olives get turned into pulp, meaning the farmer can't sell them whole.

Last but not least olives are more difficult to harvest than other types of crops

When it comes to processing, low-cost factories make even extra-virgin olive oil from a mix of different types of olives that can vary in ripeness. Processors that use just one type of fruit picked at the height of ripeness can offer higher quality, but it comes at a greater cost.