By Hana Medina
MOTHER NATURE, AS wondrous as she
may be, can be a wily, unpredictable force that
can cause big problems for farmers and their
crops. Such was the case for some European
olive farmers in 2014.
Spain and Italy, the top two global olive
producers, experienced atypical temperatures
and higher-than-normal humidity. ;e Los
Angeles Times reported that while these factors
began to wipe out crops at critical growing
points last year, they also created the perfect
conditions for olive ;ies, which feast on olives
prior to harvest.
Olive ;ies thrived throughout Spain and
Italy, particularly enjoying the Tuscan farms
from which Costco sources olives. As a result,
Italian olive oil yields are estimated to be 35 to
40 percent lower than they were the previous
year—a record drop, according to Italian
newspaper la Repubblica. Output was so dismal that the publication dubbed 2014 “the
black year of Italian olive oil.”
The Kirkland Signature connection
Shauna Lopez, Costco foods buyer, says
her team began looking elsewhere for top-quality olives to be turned into Kirkland Signature™ extra-virgin olive oils.
As a result, members will see several new
olive oil products. ;e current 2-liter Kirkland
Signature Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil will
be replaced by a 2-liter bottle of Kirkland
Signature Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil. “;is
will be the situation until availability allows us
to carry our extra-virgin Italian olive oil once
again,” Shauna says. “Greece had a record
olive crop [in 2014], and the quality is great.
We have full traceability while maintaining
our quality and ;avor standards.”
;e 2-liter Kirkland Signature Organic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil will continue to be
available in all locations, although the blend
will change slightly.
The 1-liter Kirkland Sig-
nature Tuscan Extra Virgin
Olive Oil will be phased out
and replaced by ;ve di;er-
ent extra virgin olive oils
from Bellucci, a producer
of ;ne olive oils. ;ese
oils are from different
regions (see “Flavor dif-
ferences?”), and come
with Protected Denom-
ination of Origin certi;-
cations (abbreviated to
“DOP” for the Spanish and Italian translations).
DOP is a third-party quality-assurance
measure that indicates the olives and their oil
are grown and processed in a speci;c region.
;is ensures quality throughout the supply
chain and indicates that members are getting
the real deal. “;ere is no quality di;erence
between properly grown and pressed Greek,
Spanish and Italian extra virgin olive oils,”
says Troy Kozen, assistant buyer at Costco.
There is, however, a flavor difference,
depending on where olives are grown. Olive
oil producers explain that the variety of olive,
the climate, soil, coastal or inland location and
other environmental factors all a;ect the way
an oil tastes, much as with wine and co;ee.
But whereas wine tends to be better with age,
the fresher olive oil is, the better it is.
When producing fine olive oils, three
components are essential: fruitiness, bitterness and pungency, or peppery, spicy notes.
Members can expect small ;avor di;erences in the extra-virgin olive oils produced
in the following regions.
Mylopotamos, Crete (origin of the 2-liter
Kirkland Signature olive oil and one Bellucci
oil): Fruity, strong olive ;avor, mild
Siurana, Spain: Very fruity, with apple
notes, not very peppery, mild
Estepa, Spain: Very strong peppery ;avor, full-bodied
Terre di Bari, Italy: Fruity, herbaceous
and peppery olive ;avor, bold and full-bodied
Val di Mazara, Italy: Very fruity, sweet,
almond taste, mild
Shauna reports that all of these extra-vir-
gin olive oils are outstanding and above aver-
age in fruitiness—and also marked by a clean,
;ese top-notch oils are certainly worth
your while. But Troy says not to fret if Tuscan
extra-virgin olive oils are still a favorite; ;ey
won’t be gone forever.
“We’ll always get as much Tuscan extra-virgin olive oil as we can,” he con;rms, “but
when the crop is ;ckle, especially as it has
been this past year, we’ll look for quality oils
elsewhere for our members.” C
The Costco Connection
Availability of new products will vary by
region; northeastern U.S. and Los Angeles-area locations will not receive the 2-liter
Kirkland Signature Greek Extra Virgin Olive
Oil. Selections of the Bellucci oils will arrive
throughout spring and summer.
The 1-liter Kirkland Sig-tE
; he nature o;
change Unusual weather creates new olive oil offerıngs
Extra virgin olive oils from Bellucci
include oils from Spain, southern Italy
and Greece. (Below) 2-liter Kirkland
Signature Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil
will replace the current Tuscan version.