When people think of that golden elixir olive oil, people most often think of Italy. Italian cuisine is just drenched in the stuff, and Americans have developed quite a taste for it. The increasing demand for olive oil has brought on more of a supply, this time not only coming from Italy, but numerous other countries. Three countries produce the majority of olive oil consumed worldwide (Spain, Greece, and Italy) and olive oil is now being produced for export in Australia, Portugal, Argentina, and even in California and Texas. Quality is sure to vary, but demand in the international olive oil market doesn’t seem to lessen, only increase year to year.
Now comes news that we have an oil crisis on our hands because one of the leading producers of olive oil has been subjected to an awful season. Spain, not Italy, is the world’s largest producer of olive oil and has been severely impacted by a crippling drought. Spanish olive trees have been hit by drought and an unexpected frost in the flowering season in spring. This has led to trees producing less fruit and the olives that have grown are less juicy than normal.
This means less olive oil, and soaring prices slapped on to what is left. The wholesale price has jumped 62 percent, according to The Guardian UK, with an estimated 600,000 tons wiped out in this year’s Spanish drought. Prices are just starting to go up, with an estimated consumer price increase expected to be somewhere around 25 percent, which means a $20 bottle of olive oil will now run you somewhere in the $25 range (but if you are paying $25 for a bottle of olive oil, an extra $5 will not likely be a big deal). That said, consumers worldwide are being encouraged to stock up on what is currently on the shelves, as the next shipment will surely come at a higher cost.
Does this price increase impact you? Would you refuse to buy Spanish olive oil anyway? Can you see yourself forgoing your olive oil purchase and opting for coconut oil, flax seed oil, or even canola?