Why Olive Oil Is So Expensive Right Now

99 Greek producers awarded at World Olive Oil Competition

Prices have more than doubled as extreme weather hit crops in Spain, Italy and elsewhere. The upcoming harvest isn’t much better, so drizzling oil on your salad may remain costly.

Olive oil price rally to last another year, EU says. Sharp rise in olive oil prices in Europe will last for another season, forcing customers to cut back on consumption, the European Commission forecast on Monday. Production for the season starting this month will be 1.5 million tonnes, just 9% above last year's level, as a drought hit major producers.

Olive Oil Price
Why Olive Oil Is So Expensive Right Now 1

This, combined with tight stocks, has pushed prices in key growing regions such as Jaen, Spain, to record highs - almost three times the five-year average.

For the 2023-24 season, EU olive oil consumption is expected to fall by 6%, and exports are expected to be around 10% lower than last year, the report said. The price hike has driven up the cost of making traditional dishes such as pizza and paella, even as inflation elsewhere has started to fall.

Pananos, who produces extra virgin olive oil in Thessaloniki and exports it for distribution in Alberta, says other olive oil producers and table olive producers have also been hit hard by the extreme heat.

He even says he's "a bit fortunate" by comparison because table olive producers need big, healthy fruit in order to be successful, and they've haven't gotten that at all this year.

Nevertheless, this year's decreased production means the yield is a "write-off."

"The money that we're going to make, if we're going to make it, the money isn't going to be enough to pay for all the expenses. So we are going under," he said.

The price hike has led to a reported rise in olive oil theft in countries like Greece.

"The other day, I was in the supermarket here in Thessaloniki, and for the first time in my life, I saw olive oil bottles with some kind of a sensor right on it so that people would not walk away with it," Pananos said.

Those who avoid the crime route may think twice about buying olive oil — a significant cultural shift in countries like Greece, which loves its olive oil.

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