Sunday, 1 October 2023

Business News

Olive oil prices surge over 100%, leading to cooking oil thefts

Olive oil prices surge over 100%, leading to cooking oil thefts

Bottles of olive oil and sunflower oil at a Mercadona SA supermarket in Barcelona, Spain.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Olive oil prices spiked to fresh records as severe droughts in major producing countries crimp supplies — and drive up thefts in cooking oil.

Global prices for olive oil surged to $8,900 per ton in September, driven by “extremely dry weather” in the Mediterranean, according to a recent report by the United States Department of Agriculture. Already, the average price in August was 130% higher compared to the year before, and showed “no sign of easing,” USDA said.

Spain, the world’s largest producer and exporter of olive oil, has been battered by an intense drought for months. The country also just recorded its third hottest summer, with the average summer temperature 1.3°C higher than normal, according to state meteorological agency AEMET.

Further complicating matters is Turkey’s decision to suspend bulk olive oil exports… The suspension has worsened the already limited volumes in Spain.

Kyle Holland

oilseeds and vegetable oils analyst at Mintec

According to data from commodity market intelligence firm Mintec, Spain’s olive oil production in the recent season has slumped to around 610,000 tonnes — that’s a drop of more than 50% compared to the usual 1.3 to 1.5 million tonnes.

“Adding to the complexity of the situation are concerns about reduced production in other major European olive oil-producing countries, including Italy and Greece, where drought conditions prevail,” Mintec’s oilseeds and vegetable oils analyst, Kyle Holland, told CNBC. 

Greece and Italy are the second and third largest producers of olive oil, according to the International Olive Council, an intergovernmental organization made up of members that make up more than 98% of olive production globally.

Olive oil thieves

Prices of olive oil in Spain’s Andalusia soared to €8.45 ($9.02) per kilogram in September, Mintec’s benchmark showed. It marks the “highest price ever recorded for Spanish olive oil” based on the company’s data spanning over 20 to 30 years, and represents a year-on-year jump of 111%.

The soaring prices, on what’s sometimes referred to as “liquid gold,” have led some to steal it.

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