Concerns Over Shortages of Olive Oil in Italy Mount

Multiple organizations have raised dire warnings of significant shortages in the country's domestic retail market. Others anticipate rising prices to reduce demand.
Naples, Italy
By Simon Roots
Oct. 31, 2022 14:05 UTC

Andrea Carassi, direc­tor gen­eral of the Italian Association of the Edible Oil Industry (Assitol), has warned that Italy is fac­ing an olive oil short­age greater than any seen in over a gen­er­a­tion.

His com­ments come amid a string of dis­ap­point­ing har­vest fore­casts across the Mediterranean basin.

Growers in Spain, the world’s largest olive oil pro­ducer, pre­dict a 50 per­cent decline in pro­duc­tion. Meanwhile, author­i­ties in Tunisia, Italy and Portugal also antic­i­pate sig­nif­i­cant pro­duc­tion decreases this year.

See Also:Amid Growing Inflation, Italians Prioritize High-Quality Food Purchases

We had spo­ken of a hot autumn for olive oil in early September. Unfortunately, we were not wrong,” Carassi told Il Sole 24 Ore. The dis­pro­por­tion between con­sump­tion and pro­duc­tion is such that, between now and next sum­mer, we may not have enough oil for the shelves of large retail­ers.”

The Italian domes­tic mar­ket accounts for approx­i­mately 600,000 tons of extra vir­gin olive oil sales each sea­son. However, recent esti­mates pre­dict that only a third of this will be pro­vided, owing to a series of cat­a­strophic cli­mate events rang­ing from storms to drought.

Soaring energy prices have fur­ther com­pli­cated the sit­u­a­tion, increas­ing pro­duc­tion costs and prompt­ing calls for sub­si­dies for pro­duc­ers and con­sumers alike.

However, Carassi sees a dan­ger in arti­fi­cially low­er­ing prices. He said this could lead to an even ear­lier deple­tion of stock and that at a time when olive oil is becom­ing a rare com­mod­ity, we believe that it is advis­able to avoid con­tin­u­ous recourse to pro­mo­tions which would dam­age con­sumer con­fi­dence in the entire olive oil sec­tor, and debase the value of our efforts.”

This will do lit­tle to allay the fears of con­sumers, how­ever. Italy’s National Confederation of Independent Farmers (Coldiretti) warned that extra vir­gin olive oil might reach a record retail price of €10 per liter as every part of the sup­ply chain, from pro­duc­tion and pack­ag­ing to label­ing and trans­port, is bur­dened by cost increases of 30 to 170 per­cent.


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