"Olive oil is becoming a luxury," said Francesco Mazzei, who runs Sartoria Italian restaurant in London.
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.
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.
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.
Jamie Oliver closing restaurants “due to Brexit”.
Not because food is sub-par, over-priced & no-one has been going for 5 years.
— Sempersursum (@sempersursum) January 6, 2017
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.