Have you ever wondered how oil is extracted from nuts, seeds and fruits? I love cooking with olive oil, I love the smooth taste, there are added health benefits over cooking with oils and animal products that are less healthy for you. I am hoping now to love avocado oil even more.
Olives and olive oil production are as old as the great Mediterranean and surrounds civilisations themselves. Some 7000 odd thousand years worth of recorded history goes with olive oil. For hundreds of millions of people, they simply know no other way of cooking, it is a staple.
Depending on where you live in the world, oils are either staples or luxuries, much of that is dependent on climate and proximity to markets. For instance, Ghee in India is a lot more readily available than Olive Oil. The opposite is true in Sardinia. Avocado oil however is different, very different.
There is evidence to suggest that us humans have been eating avocados for as long as olives. Avocado oil, however, is new. Super new. Unlike olive oil. And the reasons are pretty simple for that. A Hass avocado is relatively new too. These are the variety that turn dark when ready to eat, an easy indicator that keeps customers and supermarkets from not having to guess, as is the case with a green-skin variety. Seeing as the hass avocado is the most planted for commercial purposes, it is only natural that oil extraction from the most heavily cultivated variety comes with it.
And it is new (we said that), which means a new product that consumers will just want to try. It is healthy, delicious and nutritious. Everyone understands an avocado fruit well, notwithstanding the fact that the most eaten avocado is less than 100 years old. See above, Hass avocado. As an industry, commercially, we are talking not even 35 years old. It is certainly growing in popularity though.
At face value an olive and an avocado oil share many characteristics. Even the taste and creaminess. A deeper greener colour from avocado oil is noticeable, as is a stronger smell. One of the main differences however for the producer is between the oil content of the fruits. A mature olive has extractable oil content of much higher than a mature avocado. And as such, it takes more avocado fruit to make a kg of avocado over olive oil. Which explains the price difference.
For the time being, avocados are primarily a fresh fruit consumption item. Guacamole is second, in the US alone, the sales number is close to 600 million Dollars a year. And oil is for the time being lower down. Olives, "fresh" (they are cured, spoiler alert), that is different.
Olive oil global sales are around 13 billion Dollars, or bigger than the entire GDP of a relatively small economy like Malawi, reference - The global olive oil market size was USD 13.03 billion in 2019. On a comparative basis, the avocado oil industry is small - Global Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2022-2027 - 520 odd million Dollars a year. Roughly four percent of the size. If we are using a country comparison, then the economy of Chile is Olive oil, whilst Malawi is Avocado oil. Humblest apologies to Malawians, there is no malice intended. It is tiny on a relative basis, that is all I am trying to point out.
What are the health benefits of avocado oil? According to WebMD, in this article titled "Avocado Oil: Is it good for you?" - there are many reasons why you should be using avocado oil alongside olive oil. Obviously to break thousands of years of culinary behaviour will be nigh impossible in our lifetimes.
For me, as a part time chef and someone who loves cooking, the biggest difference is when you roast and pan fry. Avocado oil has a smoke point of nearly 60 degrees higher than olive oil. Meaning that there is less degradation of what you are cooking and a greater natural flavour from the food. For those chefs amongst us, around 270 degrees Celsius or 518 Fahrenheit is the smoke point. Wikipedia says: "The smoke point, also referred to as the burning point, is the temperature at which an oil or fat begins to produce a continuous bluish smoke that becomes clearly visible, dependent upon specific and defined conditions."
If I had to make an educated guess on avocado consumption patterns over the coming decade, I would say that as middle income standards of living rising will shift the consumption higher. Equally, better shipping methodologies of fresh fruit (not an easy task at all) will mean that higher consumption of avocados will take place in the more mature markets. Avocados will command a greater share of supermarket shelf space.
For oil, that means both with more fruit readily available, there will be more oil to extract. And more demand will mean more production of avocados. And ultimately more oil readily available. It is a good time to be a producer of a new and growing segment in the market, that fits squarely into increased consumer awareness around increasingly healthier lifestyles. We are pleased to be producing a high quality product that benefits both the local community from a farming perspective and consumers health alike.