High Olive Oil Prices in Spain Spur Interest in Black Friday Discounts

While prices at origin have dipped slightly, they remain elevated in stores, prompting concern among retailers over theft and consumers over fraud.
By Catherine Mcgeer
Nov. 27, 2023 14:22 UTC

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.


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