California olive oil warring parties reach compromise over controversial labeling bill AB535


AB 535, ​in its original form​, effectively prohibited “any reference to California or​​ any other representation on the principal display panel”​​ of olive oil containers unless 100% of the olives used to produce the oil were grown in California.

According to California Olive Ranch​​​, this was a blatant attempt – backed by some of its competitors – to go after its successful ‘Global Blend’​​​ extra virgin olive oil series, which combines extra virgin olive oils from California and other growing regions in Latin America and Europe, and accounts for a sizeable chunk of its sales.

California Olive Ranch argued that the bill amounted to a “solution in search of a problem​” given that the labels spell out that the bottles contain a ‘global blend of oils from Argentina, Chile, Portugal, California’ ​​and as such would not be confused with the company’s 100% California-grown olive oil.

Backers of AB 535, however, argued that it would “protect Californian olive growers and manufacturers from being undercut in the market by ​[cheaper blended] oils that benefit from using the ‘California’ name to mislead consumers about what they’re buying.”

California Olive Ranch CEO: ‘It’s not ideal, but that’s the nature of compromise, right?’

Amendments to the bill​ – which passed in the House in May – have since modified its language such that brands featuring the word ‘California’ or other references to the Golden state on pack can still sell blended products, but would be required to state the minimum amount of California-sourced olive oil in such products in the “same font, size, and color as the word ‘California.’”



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