California Olive Ranch Looks Abroad

CEO Gregg Kelley called an alliance with producers in Argentina “an opportunity to bring a diverse portfolio to our customers while growing our network of farms and grower partners.”

Nov. 1, 2017
By Joanne Drawbaugh

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As Amer­i­ca’s largest olive oil pro­ducer pow­ers up its har­vesters to comb the neat rows of trees in its North­ern Cal­i­for­nia groves, it’s spring in Argentina where the next har­vest is just down the road — 6,000 miles of road.

Our team has trav­eled the globe build­ing long­stand­ing rela­tion­ships in order to gar­ner a broad­ened view of the world of olive oil.- Gregg Kel­ley

To sat­isfy increas­ing demand and bring the high-qual­ity olive oil tra­di­tion­ally reserved for small oper­a­tions to Amer­i­can con­sumers on a large scale, Cal­i­for­nia Olive Ranch recently announced a part­ner­ship with pro­duc­ers in Argentina to sup­ple­ment the crops grown on COR’s own groves.

CEO Gregg Kel­ley called the alliance, which COR began explor­ing in 2015, an oppor­tu­nity to bring a diverse port­fo­lio of qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil to our cus­tomers while grow­ing our net­work of farms and grower part­ners.”

While COR’s Lucini Brand has kept its flag­ship Pre­mium Select 100-per­cent Ital­ian, Lucini’s Every­day brand is from Argentina and the com­pany recently debuted its Amer­i­cas Blend con­tain­ing oils from both hemi­spheres.

Beyond expand­ing COR’s pro­duc­tion capa­bil­i­ties, Kel­ley explained the goal of the part­ner­ship includes rais­ing aware­ness around this great fruit by high­light­ing all olive grow­ing regions of the world, from the U.S. to South Amer­ica to Europe.” To this end, Kel­ley noted, Our team has trav­eled the globe, edu­cat­ing our­selves, meet­ing pro­duc­ers, and build­ing long­stand­ing rela­tion­ships in order to gar­ner a broad­ened view of the world of olive oil.”


VP of production Jim Lipman

Accord­ing to Kel­ley, look­ing beyond the coun­tries that EVOO tra­di­tion­ally comes from is the only way to com­bat ris­ing prices asso­ci­ated with pro­jected increases in global demand. There are so many untapped olive grow­ing regions around the world, includ­ing India and China,” he told Olive Oil Times.

Argentina pro­duc­ers stood out as attrac­tive poten­tial part­ners, Kel­ley noted. Since South Amer­ica har­vests at a dif­fer­ent time than Cal­i­for­nia, it cre­ates a nat­ural oppor­tu­nity for us to work with them dur­ing their har­vest and vice versa.”

For their part, pro­duc­ers in Argentina have well known they are poised to cap­ture more of the global mar­ket. We know that we have a lot of poten­tial. We have the volume…the price that we are sell­ing, export­ing our oil, is the best price right now in the mar­ket, Argentina Olive Group direc­tor Frankie Gob­bee said in an inter­view for the On Olive Oil pod­cast. We invest a lot in the state of our tech­nol­ogy. We make HACCP stan­dards, inter­na­tional stan­dards, in all our mills and fac­to­ries. We are work­ing to pre­pare for next year and the year after that. These are going to be very good years for Argentina in terms of expor­ta­tion.”

© Olive Oil Times — Data source: IOC

From a brand­ing stand­point, Kel­ley explains, there is an Ital­ian influ­ence in Argen­tin­ian cul­ture that is so well aligned with Lucini Ital­i­a’s sim­ple phi­los­o­phy that great food comes from only the most cared-for, high-qual­ity ingre­di­ents.” One of the com­pa­ny’s part­ners pur­chased his mill from an Ital­ian fam­ily, and many res­i­dents in the coun­try pos­sess dual cit­i­zen­ship.

COR has been work­ing closely with Argen­tin­ian pro­duc­ers to be present at the time of har­vests to hand-select oils and mark tanks for opti­mal qual­ity con­trol.

In work­ing directly with COR, Argen­tin­ian pro­duc­ers have gained access to mem­bers of COR’s milling, oper­a­tions, and tech­ni­cal ser­vices teams, who Kel­ley dis­patches to assist in pro­duc­tion and to taste oils off the line.

COR has also helped their for­eign part­ners nav­i­gate the com­plex­i­ties of export­ing agri­cul­tural goods to the United States.

Kel­ley believes his for­mula can be repli­cated around the world.

Cal­i­for­nia Olive Ranch is unique in that we have exper­tise in grow­ing, milling, bot­tling, and sell­ing a pre­mium prod­uct to con­sumers at an approach­able price. The abil­ity to do all four of these things can help pro­duc­ers around the world, by increas­ing the qual­ity of what they pro­duce and the prices they receive for their efforts.”

We want to encour­age brands to ven­ture out­side of their com­fort zone and ded­i­cate the resources to expand the olive oil cat­e­gory and increase edu­ca­tion of the Amer­i­can con­sumer about what a high qual­ity oil should be,” Kel­ley said.

We started by putting Cal­i­for­nia on the map with COR, and now we hope to bring atten­tion to Argentina, a coun­try we believe is poised to fol­low the same path.”

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