Due to rising prices, olive oil, a staple of Greek culture and food, is turning into a luxury item, according to the vice president of one of Greece’s largest unions of olive farmers.
According to the Vice President of the Heraklion Agricultural Cooperative (EASH), Myron Chiletzakis, the retail price of olive oil would be between €12 and €15 during the winter in Crete. The largest Greek island geographically is also one of the Greece’s largest olive oil-producing regions. In Crete, the wholesale price is currently around €8.40 ($9) per litre.
Speaking to public radio ERT as well, Myron Chiletzakis claimed that the fact that 80 percent of the nation’s olive oil production is exported is also the cause of the domestic increase in price. He argued that the Greek authorities did not foresee the drop in production, as neighbouring Turkey did, which banned all exports.
According to analysts, high VAT, adverse weather and natural disasters, high production costs and labour shortages, as well as profiteering by dealers, are other factors contributing to the 100% increase in soaring prices of olive oil.
The drop in production across the entire Mediterranean region is what’s driving up the price of olive oil. Spain, the top exporter of olive oil worldwide, is where it all began. Following a two-year drought and record heat, Spain’s olive oil production in the most recent season fell to about 610,000 tons, a loss of more than fifty percent from the usual 1.3 to 1.5 million tons.
“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,” Kyle Holland of Mintec’s oilseeds, a vegetable oils analyst, told CNBC.
Greece and Italy are the 2nd and 3rd largest producers of olive oil worldwide, according to the International Olive Council, an intergovernmental organization made up of members that make more than 90 percent of the olive oil production globally.
According to Mintec’s standard, the cost of olive oil in Spain’s Andalusia increased to €8.45 ($9.02) per kilogram in September. On the basis of the company’s records spanning over twenty to thirty years, it indicates a year-over-year increase of 111 percent and the “highest price ever recorded for Spanish olive oil.”
Due to the rising costs of what is sometimes referred to as “liquid gold,” some Greek shops have decided to add security features to the bottles to deter theft.
Some 50,000 litres of extra virgin olive oil was reportedly stolen from one of Spain’s oil mills in late August 2023. That is more than €420,000, or about $450,000 USD worth of olive oil.