US olive oil wholesaler has switched the sourcing of the EVOO from Italy to Greece

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Costco Wholesale has switched from Italy to Greece as the source of the extra-virgin olive oil for its Kirkland Signature 2-liter bottle, in what could be a big break for the economically battered cradle of Western Civilization and its relatively unheralded olive-oil industry.

The move comes amid an apocalyptic season for Italy’s olive groves. A hot spring, a rainy summer and a pesky olive-eating fly conspired to create what Italian daily La Repubblica called “the black year of Italian olive oil.”

Production in Italy is expected to drop 34 percent this year, according to the International Olive Oil Council.
Prices have gone up accordingly: Italian extra-virgin olive oil in March was sold by producers for about $2.97 a pound, 84 percent more than a year earlier, according to the council.

That price hike must have been tough to swallow for Costco, a company that’s always looking for a good deal.

Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said the availability of the extra-virgin olive oil Costco usually purchases is down to one-tenth of the normal level.

“We wanted to get a single source of good quality; for this year we went to Greece,” he said.

While Spain, the world’s foremost olive-oil producer, also suffered from some of the same weather events that befell Italy, Greece has been largely spared. Its production is expected to more than double this year, and prices for extra-virgin olive oil are up only 15 percent from last year, at a relatively humble $1.45 a pound.

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