Seagate previously posted on this subject in a May 2016, Olive Oil Industry Growth & Cheating. That article detailed the flow of olive oil from Italy into the U.S., over 110,000 tons/year, and how most of it was adulterated either with other vegetable oils, oils from North African and Eastern European countries, or 2nd press chemically-treated olive oils that were reprocessing from olive pomace waste that was separated from the first pass through the machinery.
Unfortunately as people in the U.S. shift to a healthier “Mediterranean Diet” eating more fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, and substituting olive oil for other cheaper vegetable oils (peanut oil, corn oil, sunflower oil) and animal fats such as butter, the irony is that we are eating these same oils and paying a much higher price for them because they are being sold to us in bottles of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. These unscrupulous suppliers, most from overseas, are able to get away with this because Americans are considered to be dumb as far as being able to identify real quality olive oil. After all, most of the oil purchased in the U.S. comes in gallon plastic jugs from the big box warehouses selling for as little as $10. Americans tend to get more excited about the cost savings rather than what is really inside the bottle.
This season (2016) happened to be a very poor season for olive oil production in Europe because of their ongoing drought. When the trees are dry, a single tree’s output of olives will drop to zero, instead of normally 16-20 kgs of olives. Such poor conditions in Italy did not even allow them to produce enough olives this year for their own consumption. Forget about having an excess to export. However, they are still exporting over 100,000 tons this year to the U.S. despite it is not even having enough to supply 50% of their own domestic demand. So there is a major incentive to cheat. Olive Oil is big money. The U.S. imports over $1.5 billion dollars in Olive Oil each year. It is estimated that between 80-90% of the olive oil sold in the U.S. has been adulterated.
For more info, view the 60 Minutes expose’ of the Olive Oil industry in Italy being taken over by their mafia:
To avoid this trend, you might want to avoid European olive oils this year entirely. There are excellent olive oils being produced in California (and Baja California), Australia, Chile and South Africa. Seagate of course produces our own with our newly installed process machinery dedicated to low-temperature processing and centrifuge separation. The photo below shows several of 9 new machines we installed this Fall that have increased our capacity, quality and yield/ton.
Seagate Olive Oil is technically called first press, extra virgin. However, we do not even use presses. We use an extraction method based upon centrifugal force to separate the oil from the olive’s vegetable matter. The olives only make one pass through the production line. No other oil is blended into this product.
As is our practice with Richard’s articles, we usually end them with one of his underwater shots. The photo below shows a healthy Caribbean reef. The small yellow fish appearing in the bottom center making a right turn is called a Grunt. These are very abundant in this part of the world. The large coral in the blue background is a fan coral.