Skip to main content

We're facing a global olive oil shortage

| Supplier news

That comes courtesy of Italian chef Francesco Mazzei, who runs the Italian restaurant Sartoria in London. Mazzei depends on olive oil for much of his cooking. But because of a shortage, he told Bloomberg News, prices are skyrocketing. He's even had to raise menu prices to compensate.

Among chefs in London, it's a common refrain. Ben Tish, who runs a Spanish and Italian tapas restaurant, told Bloomberg that he buys about 100 litres of olive oil a week, to top grilled flatbread, mix into aioli and prepare luscious olive oil cakes. He now pays about 13 percent more, 26 pounds ($32.70) for five litres.

And things are only going to get worse. Experts are predicting a worldwide shortage in the next couple of months, jacking up prices around the globe.

The problem is several terrible years in the making. Erratic weather in Spain, Italy and Greece, where the bulk of the world's olive oil is produced, has decimated crops. In Italy, unseasonably hot and muggy temperatures have attracted fruit flies and bacteria, damaging groves. Farmers say their yields will be cut in half this year. In Greece, a heat wave could cost growers more than a quarter of their crop. Flooding in Spain's most fertile regions has decimated its harvest. Overall, experts say, global production is set to fall about 8 percent.

These shortages come as demand for the product has skyrocketed around the world. China has recently become enamoured with the stuff, consuming nearly $200 million worth of olive each year. The country's nouveau riche see the product as a healthier alternative to other fatty oils. They import nearly 99 percent of what they use.

With increased demand and less supply, prices are climbing. Since October, the cost of extra-virgin olive oil has jumped 30 percent in Italy, to $6.15 a kilogram. In Spain, the cost is up about 10 percent, near a seven-year high, according to the International Olive Council in Madrid. In Greece, it's 17 percent. And forecasters say the worst is yet to come.

Brits may be particularly hard hit, paying a third more by the end of the year. It's a big extra cost, especially since the British pound is quite volatile in the wake of the Brexit vote.

So far, American consumers have been immune to the impact of the rising price of olive oil, courtesy of the strong dollar. And farmers in California have begun producing olives and pressing out oil. Their profits have jumped 10 percent in the past five years.

The United States, however, produces only 2 percent of the world's olive oil. As Walter Zanre, head of the United Kingdom's best-selling olive oil brand, told the Telegraph, "2017 will be very bad for olive oil."

WASHINGTON POST 




Pin It

Related Articles

Veggie victory as Joburg High Court sets aside ...

By: Sarene Kloren - IOL Lifestyle A new ruling by the South Gauteng High Court in Joburg has overturned an interim interdict to forestall and prevent the seizure of plant-based meat alternatives from South African retail shelves.

Benylin Paediatric Syrup recalled, investigatio...

By: Given Majola – IOL Business Report The SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) together with the South African manufacturer of Benylin Paediatric Syrup – Kenvue (formerly Johnson & Johnson) – have recalled two batches of the coug...

Tiger Brands invests in a multi-million-rand Pe...

Black Cat, South Africa’s most loved peanut butter brand, has a new home following a R300-million capital investment by Tiger Brands. The new peanut butter manufacturing facility is in Chamdor, Krugersdorp, on Johannesburg’s West Rand.

Eskom price hikes are here — How much more cust...

By: Hanno Labuschagne - MyBroadband Eskom’s latest tariff hikes will see many direct residential customers paying between R168 and R792 more per month on their electricity bills.

Take heed of these new retail trends that emerg...

By Karen Keylock | National Retail Services Manager at Nedbank Commercial Banking South African consumers are under financial strain and, consequently, the way they shop has changed. And with further economic uncertainty expected in the coming ye...