Latest News

Wednesday, December 21, 2016
A Message to Our Friends

A small amount of high-quality, California produced olive oil is now available for free from the Owens Creek Company.

Interested? Read on.

For the harvest season of 2016, the Owens Creek Company harvested and processed only a small quantity of Sicilian olives — enough to produce about 140 gallons of oil, or enough to fill about 280 half-gallon containers. The distribution of about 115 gallons to the owners leaves about 25 gallons, or 50 half-gallon containers available for distribution to friends of the owners and friends of the Owens Creek Company.

Because it does not make economic sense to buy product liability insurance for our oil (cost — about $2,000), we cannot actually sell it to anyone. However, we can give it away with the understanding that the recipient accepts the oil as a gift and not something that has been paid for. We can charge for shipping and handling as long as this cost represents our incremental cost of doing these things.

Since we have only a small amount of oil to give away, and several friends have been asking for it, we are limiting this offer to one half-gallon container per request. More than one request from the same person should be spaced out by at least one month to insure that others who want some oil have a chance to get some. We will honor requests until the oil is gone.

Please see the Store page for terms and conditions.

What about next year and future years?

We expect to continue to harvest a small quantity of olives each year going forward. How much will depend on the demand from family and friends. If the volume of requests for this year's oil is light, we will produce the same amount next year. If requests for oil flood in quickly and we run out before the next harvest, we will probably double our production next year so as to have more to give away.

We at the Owens Creek Company believe that demand for high-quality, California produced, olive oil can only go up in the years ahead. Production of high-quality olive oil in California is increasing every year, as is the demand. What needs to change, however, is the distribution system. Rather than selling this oil through the retail channel in 250ml or 375ml bottles, where two-thirds of the revenue goes to bottling costs and to the channel, we believe that end customers should be able to buy olive oil directly from the producers in half-gallon totes. For this to happen at scale, it will be necessary for people in this country to change the way they use olive oil — using it not as an occasional condiment for flavor but rather using it for everyday cooking as is done in Italy, Spain, Greece, and other parts of Europe. High-end olive oil is fantastic in all kinds of food dishes, adds great flavor almost everywhere you use it, and is known to be one of the most healthy foods available anywhere.

The Owens Creek company has 35 acres of Italian and Sicilian olive trees under cultivation. Last year, we harvested olives from less than two percent of these trees. We have enormous unrealized potential to produce high-quality olive oil. But it makes no sense for us to produce more oil than we can distribute. Three years ago, we made our oil available on this website and on Amazon for $35.00/half-gallon with free delivery but sold very little at that price. We were left with hundreds of gallons of unbought oil. At that price, we would need to sell about 140 gallons just to cover the product insurance cost. So in the foreseeable future, we will be giving away our oil.

If or when we reach a point where demand for our oil exceeds 200 gallons/year, we could begin selling it again — at a very low price. The incremental cost of production goes down with volume, but we don't expect this ever to drop below $50/gallon. So the Owens Creek Company olive oil business running on all cylinders will never be anything more than marginally profitable. But making and distributing a great food product like high-end, California produced, olive oil has its own rewards.

Walter B. Hewlett, Eleanor H. Gimon, owners