Background

Timeline

il circolo's team is forming and starts the operation the first olive grove "Ongombo" near Noto. Unfortunately too late for the harvest. Therefore we had the opportunity to observe the harvesting process. The olives were overripe and sold to middlemen at the usual, cheap wholesale prices in cash. Destination? Unknown. We hope you did not buy the oil unknowingly; bottled somewhere and probably overpriced. 2017 was also the year in which il circolo began to experiment with various methods of soil management.

In the first full year of il circolo, the harvest has been particularly bad throughout Italy. Most farmers in the area did not harvest a single olive. The olive grove Ongombo fortunately had a few hectares of olives, which il circolo supported with a Tony's premium of 60%. Altogether il circolo produced only 900 liters, but they were quite something: excellent, organic olive oil of the variety Tonda Iblea. il circolo took the opportunity to build up the distribution network via retail and Internet.

 

With this infrastructure, il circolo is also approaching other producers for the first time. As the first farm, “Iuta” joins the il circolo concept with 700 olive trees and begins the multi-year process of producing organic and social olive oil.

il circolo’s harvest in 2019 is much better than the year before. For the first time il circolo can offer several monocultivar varieties: Tonda Iblea and Moresca. Both are classic and world-famous Sicilian varieties.

 

For the first time, olive grove Ongombo receives the coveted DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) certification for its Tonda Iblea and Moresca varieties. The DOP certification has strict guidelines and is granted by the EU only to foods whose unique characteristics depend on the production area and on regional production processes. Each bottle receives an individual serial number with which DOP olive oils can be identified. The end user thus receives a guarantee for the authenticity and quality of the olive oil.

 

Olive grove Iuta has very bad luck. Despite organic production the official certification will only apply to olives harvested from December 2019 or later. For excellent oil in this region, olives need to be harvested in September or October (depending on the olive variety and altitude of the grove). Therefore, the official certification comes far too late for premium organic quality. Unfortunately, the olive oil from Iuta has to wait another full year to finally become part of il circolo.

Tony's Premium

Every year, we make an accurate bottom-up calculation per region, as the cost per growing area can be very different. As an example, take the year 2018 and the region around Noto in Sicily with a typical density of 180 trees per hectare. For an average production per hectare we calculate production costs of € 7.85 per liter.

 

For the 2018 harvest (October 2018 to September 2019), the average Italian wholesale price for conventional extra virgin olive oil was approximately € 4.91 per liter (€ 5.4 per kilo at 0.91 kg/l). Based on this price, Tony's premium was 60% (7.85/4.91). In 2018, Tony's premium applied to the olive grove Ongombo. The same calculation applies of course to other olive groves that join il circolo.

 

When calculating production costs, we include fair wages and salaries with (social) contributions and insurances for the workers. The calculation includes all measures for the sustainable and ecological production of top quality: pruning, grass cutting, soil management, fertilizing and strengthening the trees, combating the olive fly, early harvest by hand, early and competent cold pressing in a modern oil mill and, last but not least, official organic certification.

The calculation of Tony's premium for 2019/2020 is not finalized yet, but will probably be at least as high as in 2018. In 2018, the Italian harvest was exceptionally bad and market prices quite high. With a normal harvest, such as in the season 2017, market prices can fall to € 4 per liter (€ 4.4/kg). The harvest in 2019 seems to be quite good so that wholesale prices are likely to fall to 2017 levels.

Olive location

Olive grove of Ongombo S.R.L. Agricola, Via Rocco Pirri 1, 96017 Noto (SR), Sicily; 5 hectars, 230-280 meter above sea level.

Olive grove of Ongombo S.R.L. Agricola, Via Rocco Pirri 1, 96017 Noto (SR), Sicily; 5 hectars, 230-280 meter above sea level.

Olive grove of Ongombo S.R.L. Agricola, Via Rocco Pirri 1, 96017 Noto (SR), Sicily; 10 hectars, 215 and 310 meter above sea level.

Olive grove of Ongombo S.R.L. Agricola, Via Rocco Pirri 1, 96017 Noto (SR), Sicily; 5 hectars plus 10 hectars, 215-310 meter above sea level.