Our Production Process

Being a small family olive Estate gives us many advantages not enjoyed by large olive oil producers. We pick our olives at the optimum harvest time, cold press the olives within a few hours, avoid high pressure filtering and refining, and store our oil in a dark, air conditioned room to maintain outstanding freshness and flavor.

Leccino olives on the branch

Leccino Olives

We harvest when the olives are approximately ¾ ripe for a much better natural flavor. Olives that hang on the trees longer produce more oil, but they start losing their great flavor and build up acidity and sometimes bitterness. We believe that our high quality and more flavorful oils are worth sacrificing oil volume.

Our Estate grove produces some of the finest extra virgin oils in the world. Extra Virgin olive oil is required to have no more than 0.8% free fatty acid and be extracted solely by mechanical means without the use of high heat (referred to as “cold pressing”). We use a modern centrifugal press to extract the oil and we only press the olives once ( often called “first press”). This extraction process is still called pressing although the oil is obtained by spinning it from the olive flesh.

Machine harvesting NZJ5 olives

Harvesting NZJ5 Olives

Our olives are harvested and immediately sent to the press, producing oil that has less than ½ the permitted free fatty acid. Immediate pressing substantially reduces oxidation and deterioration of the oil that occurs with many large producers that do not have sufficient capacity to press their harvest quickly when huge quantities of olives are all ripening and being harvested within a short time.

We do not use high pressure filteration to remove small particles of olive flesh from the oil as high pressure filtering can change the composition of the oil. Instead, we wait for most of those olive particles to naturally drift to the bottom of the storage containers and then decant the oil for bottling. Our oil often has a bit of cloudiness from the finer particles of olive flesh that stay suspended in the oil, providing additional flavor and goodness.

Far North New Zealand Olive Oil focuses exclusively on maintaining the high quality of our oils, from our Estate to your table. We invite you to try our oils so that you may enjoy the bounty that lies in the land of the long white cloud.

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IOC and USDA Standards

International Olive Council logo The United States is the only large developed country that has never adopted the International Olive Council’s (IOC) standards. The IOC was established in 1959 under the auspices of the United Nations. A lot of mislabeling and adulteration of oils has occurred in many countries with only occasional detection and publicity. Beginning October 25, 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) implemented new standards similar to those of the IOC. The standards include, among others, the grades of extra virgin, virgin, refined olive oil, and “olive oil” (a blend of virgin and refined olive oil sometimes called Pure or Extra Light).

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University of California July 2010 Study of EVOO Failures

“Tests indicate that imported ‘extra virgin’ olive oil often fails international and USDA standards.”

Cover of U. C. Davis report The above is the conclusion of an extensive report by the University of California, Davis, with assistance from the Australian Oils Research Laboratory. They evaluated the quality of extra virgin olive oils sold on retail shelves in California. Some of these brands are sold throughout the USA and in other countries. The two laboratories evaluated the oils based on standards and testing methods established by the IOC and USDA, as well as several newer standards and testing methods adopted in Germany and Australia. These latter tests were adopted to help detect the adulteration of extra virgin olive oils with refined olive oils.

The laboratory tests found that samples of imported oil labeled “extra virgin” and sold at retail locations in California often did not meet international and US standards. Chemical tests indicated that the samples failed extra virgin standards for reasons that include one or more of the following:

This is one of the latest reports of irregularity. There have been media reports of fraud in the olive oil business for many years, where extra virgin olive oils have been adulterated with cheaper refined oils such as hazelnut or canola oil. Another method is to adulterate extra virgin olive oil with cheaper refined olive oil, thereby making chemical detection of adulteration more difficult.

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Only 10% of World Trade Is In Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The 300 page Handbook of Australasian Edible Oils published in 2007 said “Refined, bleached, deodorized oils are pale, bland, low in acidity and contain little of the original nutrients (labeled in the retail trade as “pure” olive oil). These refined olive oils provide the major proportion of marketed olive oils and unfortunately the consumer is under the illusion that these refined oils contain all the health attributes of EVOO [extra virgin olive oil]. This assumption is obviously untrue and an unfortunate practice is to distribute and sell these processed oils in clear glass bottles resulting in typical “light struck” flavors apparent in these products. Approximately 10% of the world trade is in EVOO as practices in Europe normally result in the bulk of the oil not meeting the requirements of this specification.” This statement therefore means that 90% of the olive oil in world trade does not meet EVOO standards.

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Adulterated Olive Oil

In August 2007 The New Yorker magazine disclosed findings of olive oil impropriety by government and other agencies. In the article titled, “Letter from Italy, Slippery Business, The Trade In Adulterated Olive Oil” Tom Mueller wrote that “Adulteration is especially common in Italy, the world’s leading importer, consumer and exporter of olive oil. (Spain produces more oil than Italy, but much of it is shipped to Italy for packaging and is sold, legally, as Italian oil.)”

The article reported on widespread practices such as coloring low grade soy oil and canola oil with industrial chlorophyll, flavoring it with beta-carotene, and packaging it as extra-virgin olive oil. This bogus olive oil is then sold in tins and bottles emblazoned with pictures of Italian flags and folksy names of imaginary producers. The former general manager of a very large olive oil company estimated that “ninety per cent of oil sold in Italy as extra virgin isn’t of premium grade. Its anything but extra virgin, the oil we have here,” he said. You can download a copy of the article in PDF format here

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Extra Virginity

If you are interested in learning more about the widespread marketing of bogus “Extra Virgin” olive oil I recommend Tom Mueller's Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil (2012). From his medieval stone farmhouse, surrounded by olive groves in the Ligurian countryside outside of Genoa, Italy, Mr. Mueller has written an authoritative expose of the shoddy practices that pervade the olive oil industry. From the overleaf:

For millennia, fresh olive oil has been one of life's necessities— not just as food but also as medicine, a beauty aid, and a vital element of religious rituals. Medical researchers today continue to confirm the remarkable, life-giving properties of true extra virgin olive oil. But this symbol of purity has become deeply corrupt. Most of what appears in supermarkets falls short of the high standards that define extra virgin oil, and some of it isn't even made from olives. Smelly, rancid, and downright fake olive oils are everywhere, from corner pizzerias to top restaurants. Tom Mueller takes us on a journey through the world of olive oil, meeting hardworking artisan producers who struggle to conserve ancient, local traditions in the face of an increasingly globalized marketplace; fraudsters and multinationals who control the flows of fake products; chefs, researchers, military police, and oil sommeliers who celebrate the extraordinary oils that truly deserve the name “extra virgin”.

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Other Quality Information

There are many other reports that should make consumers appreciate the efforts of the many legitimate olive industry producers to provide the high quality extra virgin olive oil that consumers expect.

We provide the above information so you can appreciate our award-winning olive oil which is laboratory tested before being accepted in the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competitions. The home page describes our recent Gold and Silver awards in that large competition.”

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