The current olive shortage caused by poor climatic conditions in Spain, Greece, and Southern Europe means an uptick in business for at least one Northern California olive grower and processor. West Coast Products produces natural brine-cured jumbo olives, which compete with chemically cured, lye treated olives from the Mediterranean region. The ongoing international olive shortage sheds new light on this niche market.
More and more buyers, reacting to the international crop shortage, are awakening to the differences between naturally cured California olives and the imports. "Buyers are calling and telling us they never knew imported green olives were cured with lye," said Dan Vecere, general manager, West Coast Products - Olinda Brand.
European farmers state that their 2013 olive crop yields fell more than 70 percent, especially for the queen size olives with market condition reports projecting 2014 prices will increase more than fifty percent. The Olinda Brand olives are Sevillano (Seh-vee-yah-noh), one of the largest green specialty varieties sometimes called the "Spanish Queen," and they are abundant in California this season and available to both domestic and foreign markets.
Until the international shortage occurred, according to Vecere and Olinda Brand Sales Manager Mark DeCamilla, the importers had been setting both product price and grade. "That's changing," said DeCamilla. "End users, such as chefs and bartenders, are taking notice that our California olives have a firmer texture and a fresher taste than the industrially cured imported olives."
The Olinda Brand tradition of olive growing and production in California spans more than 75 years..