When the Olive Growers Council was organized as a bargaining cooperative, it entered the California scene as the only organization with the mission of trying to improve prices paid to farmers for their table olives delivered to the commercial processors. The 1978 olive harvest was a disaster. With a large crop on the horizon, the processors offered a price to growers that barely allowed enough money to harvest the crop. This incident provided the incentive for farmers to hire a bargaining consultant (Ralph Bunje), who provided the initial leadership to organize and become an active bargaining association.
Always with an attitude of being fair and reasonable, the bargaining association has impacted the olive industry in a positive way as prices have moved up significantly since organized in 1978-79. From an average price in '78 of under $200 per ton, growers now enjoy price ranges from $1000 to $1200 per ton. The Olive Growers Council has been the moving force in taking table olive prices to a higher level.
Olives have been enjoyed for at least seven thousand years. Native to the Mediterranean, their popularity quickly spread from Crete to Egypt, Greece, Palestine, and Asia Minor. In the 15th and 16th centuries, olives were introduced to America by the Spanish and Portuguese.