• Olive products are olive oil and table olives.
  • The climate in the Western Cape is ideal for growing olives, especially around towns like Paarl, Robertson and Montagu, and 92% of the country’s olive production happens in the Western Cape (Mathe, 2020). Olives can also be produced in certain summer rainfall areas as happens in Hartswater in the Northern Cape, and even in the Eastern Free State (refer to Serrado Olive Estate under the “Companies involved” sub-heading)!
  • In 2020, South Africa produced 1.5 million litres of olive oil and 1 500 tonnes of table olives (Olives SA, 2021). There are 195 growers, 60% of whom are classed as small growers. Around 14 000 workers are employed (Olives SA, 2021)
  • The olive industry in South Africa produces less than a third of the oil consumed in the country. Imported olive oil is subsidised and cheaper, one of the impediments to creating further employment in this sector. Another challenge is that olive products are regarded as luxury items (Mathe, 2020).
  • One answer to the flood of imports, often of inferior quality, is the Commitment to Compliance (CTC) Scheme, which ensures that consumers can choose “the best quality locally produced oils”.
  • Harvesting can be done mechanically or by hand. The latter yields a better product but is more labour intensive. Olive farming is a long-term investment, with a return on investment only showing four to five years after planting.
  • Because olives have high growth potential and create jobs, it is viewed as an important crop for South Africa (Sihlobo, 2018).

International business environment

  • World consumption of olive oil is between 3,1 and 3,2 million tons per year.
  • Olive oil production is expected to reach a four-year high in the 2021/22 crop year, 3.3 million tons (USDA, 2021).
  • The largest producers in the world are Spain, Italy, Turkey, Greece and Morocco (FAO, 2020).

Find information at:


South Africa: imports and exports

  • There is still room in production for import substitution. Local production of olive oil only satisfies a quarter of consumption in South Africa, with the rest needing to be imported (Olives SA, 2021).
  • South Africa mostly imports olive oil from Spain and Italy. South Africa’s olive oil exports (average percentage of total from 2011 to 2018) go to SADC countries: Eswatini (19%), Namibia (18%), Botswana (17%), Zimbabwe (10%) and Zambia (8%) (Mathe, 2020).

For the newcomer

Find grower notes on the websites of several role players e.g. and

Role players



  • SA Olive Industry Association (SA Olive) Tel: 021 870 2900 Find information on the Commitment to Compliance (CTC) seal on the website. Since 2020, a levy of 8c/kg on all table olives and 40c/litre on all olive oil must be paid by producers, processors and importers when they first sell their product.


Government contact

  • National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) Tel: 012 341 1115 Statutory levies for the olive and other agricultural sectors are processed here.


Training and research

  • ARC-Infruitec/Nietvoorbij Carlo Costa Tel: 021 809 3100
  • OlivesInFact
  • University of the Free State Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology Division of Food Science Prof. Arno Hugo Tel: 051 401 2729 HugoA [at]



A list of registered olive nurseries can be found at


Websites and publications

  • Visit the websites of companies listed earlier on this page. Several of them include general information about olives, including the health aspects.
  • is a vital stop for information about olives and the South African olive industry. Amongst the information are notes for growing olives and standards for nurseries. There is also information about available publications and DVDs. These include (i) Olive Production in South Africa, (ii) Olive Oil: A Field Guide, (iii) Olive Growing Manual, and (iv) Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil.
  • Available from ARC-Agricultural Engineering (ARC-AE) is the publication “Agro-processing of Olives and Legumes (green peas, green beans, cowpeas, lentils, olives, peanuts, mushrooms)”. Call 012 842 4017 or visit
  • Table Olive Processing Made Easy by Linda Costa. Find details at
  • Mueller T. 2013. Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil. New Delhi: Atlantic.
  • Costa, C. 1998. Olive Production in South Africa: A Handbook for Olive Growers. Nelspruit: ARC-Tropical and Subtropical Crops.
  • Find news and information at
  • Find the history of olives and notes on the South African olive sector at
  • The AgriSETA Assessment Guide Primary Agriculture “Monitor the establishment of a crop” includes orchard trees. Another relevant learner guides include “Harvesting agricultural crops”.
  • Find the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) olive notes at
  • Find “Links, books & articles” at
  • Find the olive tree information at


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