California Olive Ranch Announces Expansion

A $35-million equity infusion is being used to add more than 2,000 acres of farm fields, additional infrastructure, staffing and research and development, the company revealed.

California Olive Ranch
Aug. 27, 2018
By Daniel Dawson
California Olive Ranch

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Cal­i­for­nia Olive Ranch has announced that it will plant 2,200 acres of olive trees by the end of the year.

The com­pany has already invested some of the $35 mil­lion equity invest­ment it received at the end of last year in the project. Accord­ing to CEO Gregg Kel­ley, this will be the largest sin­gle olive tree plant­ing project in Cal­i­for­nia and the United States.

These new plant­i­ngs come at a cru­cial time for the indus­try as a whole,” Kel­ley said. As the years progress, we are see­ing an upward trend in con­sumer demand. By increas­ing our level of pro­duc­tion, we are more eas­ily able to meet that need.”

Kel­ley told Olive Oil Times that these new trees were grown in domes­tic nurs­eries and, will pro­vide enough oil to serve the annual demand of our five largest cus­tomers.”

The new trees will be planted in Butte, Fresno, Kings, Merced and Yolo coun­ties. Among the vari­eties that will be planted are Arbe­quina, Arbosana and Koroneiki.


We will also ded­i­cate a sig­nif­i­cant amount of new acreage to test­ing and exper­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent vari­etals,” Kel­ley said.

California Olive Ranch new plantings

Patri­cia Dar­ragh, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Cal­i­for­nia Olive Oil Coun­cil, wel­comed the news of more olive trees and said that any sort of expan­sion that allows for increased olive oil pro­duc­tion will ben­e­fit Cal­i­for­nia.

This is good news for the indus­try,” she told Olive Oil Times. The COOC sup­ports expan­sion in Cal­i­for­nia as the demand for Cal­i­for­nia extra vir­gin olive oil has never been greater.”

Accord­ing to Dar­ragh, Cal­i­for­nia now pro­vides 7.9 per­cent of the United States extra vir­gin olive oil mar­ket share, an increase of nearly one per­cent since Decem­ber 2017. The addi­tional acres are likely to help increase the state’s mar­ket share and mit­i­gate the effects of less pro­duc­tive years.

In terms of the price that cus­tomers will pay in the super­mar­ket, nei­ther Dar­ragh nor Kel­ley believes the new acreage will have a big impact. Instead, both argue that the cli­mate and con­sumer demand are much more likely to lead to price fluc­tu­a­tions.

While I am not aware of any price increase con­sid­er­a­tions over­all [from the COR’s project], we are antic­i­pat­ing a lower yield than nor­mal for this upcom­ing har­vest which may affect pric­ing,” Dar­ragh said.

Kel­ley said the expan­sion and equity invest­ment were both allow­ing the Cal­i­for­nia Olive Ranch to cre­ate more har­vest­ing, pro­duc­tion and admin­is­tra­tive jobs, as well as expand the company’s milling infra­struc­ture.

We have increased our U.S.-based team by 20 per­cent in just the past year, with increases planned for the fore­see­able future,” he said.

Kel­ley declined to com­ment on how much of the $35 mil­lion has already been spent on the acreage increase but said the remain­der would be used to invest in local olive tree grow­ers, organic olive oil pro­duc­tion, research and devel­op­ment and regen­er­a­tive agri­cul­ture.

The equity invest­ment was pro­vided by a major U.S.-based insti­tu­tional investor” and exist­ing investors. It remains the largest of its kind in the domes­tic extra vir­gin olive oil sec­tor.

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