Britain's Olive Oil Prices Reach a Seven-Year High, Hitting Restaurateurs

"Olive oil is becoming a luxury," said Francesco Mazzei, who runs Sartoria Italian restaurant in London.

Feb. 21, 2017
By Julie Al-Zoubi

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The price of olive oil recently hit a seven-year high in Britain after poor olive har­vests in Spain and Italy led to short sup­plies while the British pound has weak­ened. Brexit resulted in a drop in the value of the pound, which helped drive up prices of imported olive oil by around 20 percent.

We’ve been forced to go from peo­ple who make and bot­tle olive oil to cur­rency spec­u­la­tors.- Walter Zanre, Filippo Berio UK

Britain’s restau­ra­teurs have felt the blow of more expen­sive olive oil. Several chefs spoke out about the impact of hav­ing to pay more for a kitchen staple. 

Francesco Mazzei, owner of the London-based Sartoria restau­rant told Bloomberg he had increased his menu prices to com­bat the extra cost of sourc­ing olive oil. Mazzei said Olive oil is becom­ing a luxury.” 

Ben Tish who runs Salt Yard, (a London tapas restau­rant) said he had recently paid $648 for 100 liters of olive oil that cost $573 three months ago. 

Bocca di Lupo’s owner, Jacob Kennedy told Bloomberg he had been unable to obtain his restaurant’s pre­ferred brand of olive oil. 

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Russell Norman, co-owner of Polpo (an Italian restau­rant chain) told Bloomberg, As a restau­ra­teur, 2017 ter­ri­fies me.” Norman voiced his dis­may over the high price of olive oil and the impact of Brexit on staffing. 

Jamie Oliver began clos­ing branches of Jamie’s Italian,” blam­ing the col­lapse of the pound and the result­ing higher costs of pur­chas­ing olive oil and other ingre­di­ents from Italy. Oliver told The Independent news­pa­per Olive oil is expen­sive and very much in the hands of nature.” Critics, mean­while have pointed out that Oliver’s restau­rants failed to draw cus­tomers for other reasons.

British shop­pers have also been stung by the higher costs of olive oil. Supermarkets increased olive oil prices by about 20 per­cent since sum­mer 2016.

Walter Zanre, Filippo Berio’s UK man­ag­ing direc­tor told The Telegraph, 2017 will be very bad for olive oil.” Zanre pre­dicted that British con­sumers could be struck by fur­ther increases in extra vir­gin olive oil prices of up to 30 per­cent if the GBP and the Euro reached par­ity. We’ve been forced to go from peo­ple who make and bot­tle olive oil to cur­rency spec­u­la­tors,” Zanre said.

Zanre voiced his fear over an impend­ing olive oil cri­sis that could be worse than any­one expected. Global demand for olive oil has recently rock­eted while sup­ply has fallen. 

Britain imports approx­i­mately 300,000 tons of olive oil annu­ally. Around 50 per­cent of Britain’s olive oil comes from Spain and Italy. 

Spanish olive oil prices spiked by around 10 per­cent since October. In Italy price hikes reached almost 30 per­cent. Erratic weather in the Mediterranean region dur­ing 2016 resulted in poor olive har­vests which has led to the higher cost of olive oil.



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