Bay Area distributors paying about $42,000 more per truckload of premium oil

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It’s a matter of taste and there is a world of varieties when it comes to olive oil according to Nate Bradley, the owner of Amphora Lafayette olive oil shop

From greenish to golden colors, imported or grown here in the Golden State, many Californians have a bottle or two on their kitchen shelves.

“I try to look for California olive oils, that’s what I try to find,” said Katie Yeadon of Walnut Creek who came into Bradley’s shop for a tasting class.

But Bradley says this year’s drought has had a big impact on California’s olive oil supply.

“California’s down a significant amount, I think it’s about 40-50 percent,” said Bradley.

Bradley’s family has been importing and distributing olive oil in the Bay

Area for about 100 years. He says while California makes up less than 1 percent of the world’s total olive oil production, other countries overseas aren’t doing much better.

According to the International Olive Council, world olive oil prices are predicted to rise due to short supply.

Bradley says Italy’s supply is estimated to be down 70 percent this year, while Spain could be down 40-50 percent, hit by bad weather and insects.

“A fruit fly can wipe out your entire crop and if you press an olive affected

by the fruit fly, just a few olives can mess up the chemistry of the oil and

make your oil completely bad,” Bradley told KTVU.

Other major suppliers in Greece and Tunisia are having good crops this year, which should help stabilize prices, but the November harvest saw the Bradley family’s business paying $7 to $8 more per gallon, or about $42,000 more per truckload of premium oil.

The price increases could trickle down from suppliers to consumers. The short supply could also affect quality.

Bradley says some suppliers might decide to bottle olive oil left over from last year. He says olive oil typically has a shelf life of one year after harvest .

“If you’re seeing a huge influx of olive oil that was harvested last year, it’s definitely not going to be as good as something that was just produced,” Bradley said.

Good information for consumers such as Dani Johnson of Concord. “I’ll definitely be looking more at the label, the ingredients and what it has on the back,” said Johnson.

Bradley says Europe’s second harvest of olives extends through January, and if the harvest yield is low, he says it’s likely consumers could see prices on even low-quality olive oil increase by $1-2 per bottle later in the year.

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