Price of olive oil climbs more than 50% in a year in the EU

Pouring extra virgin olive oil
Pouring extra virgin olive oil Copyright Canva
By Doloresz Katanich
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The inflation rate for the liquid gold skyrocketed in the second half of 2023, dwarfing general food inflation across Europe.

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Olive oil, the golden lifeblood of Mediterranean cuisine, is experiencing a staggering rise in price, especially in the southern European countries where it is produced. 

The price of olive oil in Portugal soared by 69.1% in January 2024 compared with last year, well above the average of 50% in the EU, according to Eurostat. As a comparison, general food inflation was 4.8% in January across the bloc. 

In Spain, the world's biggest olive oil producer, prices jumped 62.9% in January compared with the previous year.

Across the EU, the annual price rise accelerated in the second half of last year from 37% in August to 51% in November, which was its peak. 

In January 2024, each EU country reported a sizable increase in the annual inflation for olive oil, with Portugal reporting the highest jump along with Greece and Spain. 

Romania meanwhile saw the lowest price rise within the EU (yet still 13%), with Switzerland from outside the bloc closing ranks. Eurostat did not report any data for the UK.

Much of the hair-rising inflation has arisen over the past two years and is mainly due to drought and extreme heatwaves in countries such as Spain, where production halved in 2023. 

There's traditionally huge demand in Mediterranean countries, pushing prices further, and in Spain for instance, 80% of olive oil is produced to be exported. 

Will olive oil see another increase?

There is an expectation that global olive oil prices will climb further, as drought has buffeted the 2023/24 crop year which officially began on 1 October 2023. 

Officials in Spain expect production to remain below one million tonnes for an unprecedented second-straight harvest.

Spain's leading agricultural union, the Cooperativas Agro-alimentarias, cited by the Olive Oil Times, estimated that production would rise to 755,000, which is still below average but it is an improvement from the record-low yield of the previous crop year's 664,033 tonnes.

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