Why is there an olive oil shortage in New Zealand and what are the alternatives?

You may have noticed the rapid price increase of olive oil in your local supermarket in recent weeks, or in many cases, empty shelves.  These price increases of olive oil stem from supply shortages in Europe from drought, wildfires and the spread of bacteria (xylella fastidiosa) on the olive groves.  While local suppliers have worked hard to protect New Zealand from these shortages by stocking up ahead of time and sourcing direct from Europe, the continued supply shortage from the past 12+ months is now hitting New Zealand and likely to continue for some time.


The European olive harvest was reportedly reduced by 40% – 50% this season leaving the global market short of olive oil, with some countries banning the export of olive oil and some organised crime gangs in Spain stealing it for profit.  Following simple economic logic, when supply falls short of the demand price can often increase at an alarming rate, which is what we are seeing in the olive oil market.  Global shortages are likely to mean higher prices for longer when buying a bottle of extra virgin olive oil in New Zealand.

Why is Olive Oil so expensive?


Image extracted from the International Olive Council November – December 2023 Newsletter

European olive oil manufacturers are blending commodity oils such as refined canola oil with extra virgin olive oil to bolster supply and meet demand.  While New Zealand does produce a small amount of homegrown olive oil, the supply is well short of domestic demand.

extra virgin oil

What are the Olive Oil substitutes?

Fortunately, in New Zealand, there are healthy and quality alternative oils for you to try.  The Good Oil’s cold pressed extra virgin sunflower and rapeseed oils provide unique oil flavours, gorgeous colours, and a high smoke point all at a significant price saving.  These extra virgin oils have the versatility required for a home kitchen and can replace olive oil both as an everyday cooking oil, and as a wonderful oil for dressings, dips and baking.


Pure Oil NZ (The company behind The Good Oil) works with New Zealand farmers to grow high oleic rapeseed and high oleic sunflower crops that are GE free and offer delicious oils that are high in healthy monounsatured fats.  Once the bright yellow rapeseed and sunflower fields are harvested the seeds are cold pressed and bottled in Canterbury at our crush facility.

The local origin of The Good Oil ensures you receive fresh oil that is at its best, and the oil has a short distance to travel from a Canterbury field to your kitchen.  Pure Oil NZ has full oversight of the production of The Good Oil, from our Agronomy Team supplying the farms with the premium seed, to pressing and bottling the oil in-house, which ensures ultimate traceability and the ability to produce premium oil through the supply chain.


Nick Murney, Managing Director of Pure Oil NZ confirmed that the Good Oil brand is growing massively (100%+) in 2024, which he attributes to the New Zealand shopper trying alternative culinary oils due to the large price increases and the scarcity of recognised olive oil brands.

Nick has had discussions with the two main grocery chains; Foodstuffs and Woolworths, and both companies are increasing shelf space for seeded cold pressed oils, thereby providing other extra virgin oil options to their consumers.

“We are hearing the olive oil crisis is likely to continue for some time and prices are going to continue increasing for the limited olive oil stock that will be available. This season’s harvest for high oleic rapeseed was a good one, with high quality oil grown.  We are just starting sunflower harvest now in late March 2024 and the early seed also looks outstanding.  We are hiring more staff and investing in additional processing equipment at the factory in Rolleston Canterbury, to keep up with demand and to ensure high quality cold pressed oils are available for New Zealanders” said Nick

For more information about cold pressed culinary oil (The Good Oil) head to our website.

the good oil