Buying olive oil seems to be fraught with more danger than it needs to be. You have to consider which type you get, where it’s from, why something can be “extra” virgin, how it was pressed, and how long it was sitting on the store shelf — and that’s all before it gets into your home where you have to be careful where you store it and for how long.
I just want to dunk my bread in something delicious.
A new company out of Israel is looking to change all that hubbub by bringing fresh olive oil to your countertop. The Olive X-Press is roughly the size of a blender and uses a cold press to turn 3 kilograms (6.61 lbs) of olives into 500 CCs (16 fl. oz.) of olive oil in roughly 45 minutes. While still in the prototype stage, the Olive X-Press is now fully funded, having raised $386,000 on the Israeli investor platform ExitValley. This money is in addition to a $1.5 million early seed investment.
According to supporting investment materials on the Olive X-Press’ investment page, the global olive oil market is $10 billion, which is mostly supermarkets. The problem is that olives have a very short harvest window, and an even shorter shelf-life so the oil you buy at the store year round has probably already begun degrading. To extend the olives’ shelf-life, the company has come up with Olive X-Tend, an organic treatment (no more details on that) and vacuum seals them so they last for more than a year.
Once at market, Olive X-Press plans to make money through a combination of device sales to the consumer and small businesses (delis, grocers, etc.), as well as a subscription service to get fresh olives delivered to your doorstep. The target price point for the Olive X-Press is $299, with bags of 3kg olives costing $7 -- $10 each. The company holds three patents for the device, and plans to go into commercial production of the home machine in 2019. They’ll follow that up six months later with a larger scale machine for supermarkets.
“Fresh” is a hot buzzword right now as new technology enables the production of certain food items to move further away from centralized factories and closer to our homes. You can see this in the coffee world with the recent launches of the Bellwether and Carbine Coffee ventless, electric roasters. These appliances are built so smaller establishments like cafés and bakeries can roast their own coffee beans on-site, to provide maximum freshness and flavor for their customers. And like those endeavors, it seems like the Olive X-Press could find a market in restaurants and cafés looking for higher quality ingredients and a little differentiation.
But the home market is another story. For consumers, the Olive X-Press is more akin to the Bonaverde Berlin, the countertop machine that roasts, grinds and brews coffee. Both are single-use machines that take a long time to create the finished product, and both manufacturers want to sell you the inputs (green coffee beans, raw olives).
This could just be my lazy American bias showing, but while I’m sure fresh olive oil tastes much better, my hunch is that I’d rather just grab a bottle of it from the store, despite all the danger.