Consumers flock to shops on Black Friday to take advantage of the best bargains on Christmas gifts or to upgrade their flatscreen televisions. This year, the anticipated discounts on extra virgin olive oil drove crowds to local supermarkets across Spain.
Over the past year, olive oil prices have risen to historic levels in Spain, leaving consumers and producers alike concerned. The primary reason behind the increase can be attributed to two years of drought in Spain, which typically accounts for approximately 40 percent of the world’s olive oil supply.See Also:High-Priced Olive Oil Fuels Thefts in Greece, Farmers Respond
As a result of high temperatures in May damaging olive trees at the moment of flowering, the Iberian peninsula’s persistent drought, major flooding and intense forest fires, Spanish farmers have struggled to maintain their olive oil production, leading to a decrease in supply and subsequently driving up prices. In 2022, a liter of olive oil was €4; in January 2023, it was €6 and now costs around €9 in Spain.
The record-high prices of olive oil have triggered noticeable changes in the Mediterranean lifestyle for Spanish locals.
A once-commonplace staple at restaurant and cafeteria tables, olive oil now requires a specific request, with servers cautiously pouring it onto diners’ plates. Some supermarkets have resorted to securing olive oil with electronic tags similar to expensive alcoholic beverages.
Recent research from the University of Jaén on the sale of oils and fats in Spain found that extra virgin olive oil sales dropped by 11 percent in the first nine months of 2023, while virgin olive oil and olive pomace oil sales rose.
Hence, when major Spanish supermarket chains advertised substantial discounts on olive oil during Black Friday, with some discounted periods extending through the end of the month, locals eagerly stocked up on this beloved cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet.
However, the increase in olive oil prices has also led to increased theft and fraudulent practices within the industry.
Incidents of thefts, dilution of extra virgin olive oil with lower grades or other types of edible oils, falsification of shipping data and deceptive marketing tactics aiming to mislead customers have been reported.
While the start of the harvest has temporarily tipped the balance of supply and demand, with olive oil prices at origin decreasing slightly from record-high levels, this decline has yet to reflect on store shelves, where consumers continue to deal with elevated prices.