Olive Oil - Shortages On The Way

Mar 24th 2017

Britain could soon be seeing an increase in the price of olive oil, as olive orchards suffered under a two-pronged assault of weather and disease last year, eating into availability for 2017.

In multiple countries that grow olives, the news isn’t good – Portugal has already advised of a 30% reduction in production in 2016, dropping to 500,000 tonnes, while in Italy, shortages have resulted in the price of olive oil reportedly moving up by 30% in Italy.

There are a number of causes for this fall in production and resulting price rise – a hotter, drier summer in Spain, combined with a bacterial outbreak in Italy that destroys the olives and then the trees themselves, led to some of the worst harvests for 20 years.  This combines with generally high demand, both from established markets and also from growing exports to China, which is developing a taste for the oil too.

Here in the UK, these upward pressures on prices combine with the weakened value of the pound, adding extra expense, and it’s not gone un-noticed by British restauranteurs.  Some owners of Italian restaurants have closed down branches due to the increased cost of importing the relevant ingredients.

While production in the future may improve with better weather, there will still be the ongoing impact of the effect of disease on olive tree numbers, which could take some years before coming back to full strength once more.  Until that time, we should expect to be paying a premium for our olive oil.