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Typically pitted ripe (black) olives are sold in cans but green olives and specialty olives (e.g., Kalamata) are in jars.

Is this due to properties of the olives and different storage needs?

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I think you're starting from a false premise. My impression (which I'll have to check) is that smaller quantities are sold in cans or plastic pouches and larger quantities in jars, which would tend to support GeneratorHalf's hypothesis. –  Peter Taylor Dec 20 '11 at 9:54
    
They don't. It must be coincidence that this has happened where you live. I have seen all kinds of olives in all kinds of packages (jars, small cans, big cans, tubs, canisters, small wooden barrels...) and there is no difference in taste. –  rumtscho Dec 20 '11 at 11:47
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2 Answers 2

I would speculate that typically, black olives are consumed all at one time, as they are usually an ingredient in something. Green olives, however, are often consumed only a few at a time as a snack or in a drink, so being able to reseal the jar is much more useful.

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It's for marketing purposes. People who can see the food inside the jar are more likely to buy it. Subconsciously a tall jar full of olives is more pleasing to the eyes than a can which is full to an unknown percentage. Another good thing about a glass container is that it is resealable, so the olives remain fresh longer.

So why don't they do this with black olives? Jars are more expensive than cans or other cheap plastic containers. Green olives seem to be more popular in american cuisine than black olives. Companies have more budget to afford more expensive packaging for green olives than for black olives. It also depends on where the olives come from - I eat a lot of olives from a niche Greek grocery store, and all of the olives (green or black) are in plastic containers, most likely because of the economics of the region from which they were imported.

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