Extremely dry weather in the Mediterranean is blamed for the spike
Global olive oil prices hit record highs in September, topping $8,900 per ton as a result of severe droughts in major producing countries, according to this week's report by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Prices have risen steadily since the extent of the damage to the harvest became apparent, it said, noting that the average price in August was 130% higher than the year before. Prices last month quickly surpassed the previous record of $6,242 per ton set in 1996 "with no sign of easing," the USDA report said.
Prices of olive oil in Andalusia, Spain reportedly soared to 8.45 ($9.02) per kilogram in September, marking the "highest price ever recorded for Spanish olive oil" and a year-on-year jump of 111%. Spain is the world's largest producer and exporter of what is sometimes referred to as 'liquid gold', followed by Greece and Italy.
The USDA warned that as a result of supply concerns, olive oil consumption is forecast flat or down in 2022-23 for every country except Trkiye, where the government recently banned bulk olive oil exports in an attempt to ensure domestic supplies and alleviate price pressure even with record domestic production. This month, the USDA revised 2022-23 global olive oil production down to 2.5 million tons, a quarter lower than both the previous year and the five-year average.
READ MORE: Olive oil may become unaffordable for Spaniards - El Mundo
"Concerns over production in 2023/24 are also exacerbating the price spike as hot and dry conditions develop in the Mediterranean once again," the USDA warned.
The soaring prices have led to stealing in some cases, CNBC reports. According to the outlet, around 50,000 liters of extra virgin olive oil was reportedly stolen from a Spanish oil mill in late August. That's reportedly more than 420,000 ($450,000) worth of olive oil. Shortly before that, thieves made off with 6,000 liters of extra virgin olive oil from another mill, according to local media reports.
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