Olive oil is among the most in-demand food products in Spain as the country faces an unprecedented health crisis due to the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, according to the president of the country’s national agri-food cooperative.
“Olive oil bottlers are working 24 hours per day in three shifts without stopping the factory,” Ángel Villafranca told El Diario.
According to data released by the global marketing research firm Nielsen, olive oil purchases rose by five percent in the last week of February, compared with the same period last year. The last week of February is widely considered to be the first week of the health crisis in the country.
Purchases also increased in the first week of March, rising by 0.9 percent relative to the same period last year. Nielsen analysts partially attributed this slow down to government recommendations that people stay at home to help stem the spread of COVID-19.
Outside of Italy, Iran and China, Spain has been the hardest hit by the pandemic, reporting 767 deaths and 17,147 confirmed cases at the time of writing.
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Since the implementation of the ‘state of alarm’ by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on March 13, olive oil demand has slowed as even fewer people venture out to the supermarket, but bottlers continue to work as quickly as ever to keep store shelves stocked at home and abroad.
“We are not only talking about Spain but we are also exporting a good part of our products,” Villafranca said. “In Italy, Spanish trucks continue to circulate and go daily to warehouses.”