Unusual weather and a proliferation of olive-eating insects have devastated the olive harvest in Europe.
According to the International Olive Council, olive oil production will hit its lowest level in 15 years, leading prices to swing upward.
Curtis Cord, publisher of the Olive Oil Times, told NPR that olive oil production in Italy and Spain has taken a significant hit. He said:
“What we have is bad weather at the wrong times; we have olive fruit fly, which is having a heyday out there. And in the heel of the boot in Apulia, Italy, you even have a bacteria called Xylella fastidiosa, which came out of nowhere and destroyed almost 1 million trees.”
Global production of olive oil is expected to drop 17 percent to 2.4 million tons this year, about 400,000 tons less than the world will consume, Cord said.
The decreased output of olive oil will hit you where it counts: your wallet. The bulk price of oil has doubled in some areas of Europe, according to The Associated Press.
“This is the worst year in memory,” Pietro Sandali, head of the Italian olive growers consortium, Unaprol, told the AP.
This is another big bump in the road for southern Europe’s economy, which is still trying to bounce back after a drawn-out financial crisis. The AP wrote:
Olive oil is big business in southern European Union countries. They are the source of more than 70 percent of the world’s olive oil, bringing export revenue of almost $2.2 billion last year. The United States imported just more than $800 million of that.
So, if you’re an olive oil lover, stock up now, especially on extra virgin olive oil. NPR wrote:
“You’ll likely find plenty of Italian olive oil at your store now because oils from this year’s shortfall would not typically reach retailers in the first quarter of next year anyway,” [Cord] says. “So while they might be halfway through their shelf-life, they’re still fine to use.”
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