Salad days over as price of olive oil skyrockets after “disastrous” harvest


A “disastrous” harvest in some Mediterranean countries means prices in supermarkets could jump by up to 20 per cent in the next few weeks. 

A drought in Spain and bacteria in Italy has hit olive production significantly, say experts. 

The 2014/15 season was so poor in Spain and Italy – the world’s biggest producers – that there was no annual carryover of supply, leaving bottlers with very low available stocks and facing substantial price rises, reports trade magazine The Grocer. 

The latest Mediterranean olive harvest will end this month and suppliers warn there is unlikely to be any let-up from a worldwide shortage of olives. 

The wholesale price of Italian extra virgin olive oil has risen 14 per cent, while the same product from Spain is up 20 per cent. 

It is these increases that are expected to filter down to shop shelves. 

Lisa Mullins, UK marketing manager at producers Filippo Berio, said: “Typically, olives are a cyclical plant – a good year, a bad year and a good year. While a weak harvest is usually not a concern, 2014/15 was a disaster.” 

While Spain suffered a drought, Italian production has been hit by an outbreak of the bacteria xylella fastidiosa, infecting more than one million olive trees. 

The Spanish crop has recovered this year, but the spread of the bug shows no clear signs of subsiding. 

Tunisia is expected to be down 220,000 tons this year. 

A price war has cushioned shoppers so far, but prices rose by more than 10 per cent towards the end of last year.