Low Availability and Rising Prices Spark Concerns of Olive Oil Fraud in Morocco

Already-high olive oil prices could rise a further 25 percent, which would put the product out of reach of many of the country’s consumers.
By Paolo DeAndreis
Nov. 28, 2022 14:07 UTC

The sig­nif­i­cant olive oil pro­duc­tion decrease expected in Morocco this sea­son has trig­gered con­cerns about olive oil avail­abil­ity and ris­ing prices.

In many regions of the coun­try, a liter of olive oil is already sold at 80 dirham (€7.24), plac­ing the prod­uct out of reach for many Moroccan con­sumers.

According to data from Moody’s Analytics, an eco­nomic research firm, the aver­age gross salary in Morocco is €323 per month, the high­est in the region but well below the aver­age of most devel­oped coun­tries.

See Also:Europe and Morocco Sign Deal to Develop Sustainable Agricultural

Local media report that many Moroccans who can­not afford olive oil, a key ingre­di­ent in the local cui­sine, have been openly express­ing their dis­con­tent on social media.

The ris­ing olive oil prices have been largely attrib­uted to the coun­try’s pro­duc­tion decrease, result­ing from pro­longed drought. Lower olive yields have increased millers’ pro­duc­tion costs, which have been passed on to con­sumers.

Rachid Benali, pres­i­dent of Morocco’s inter­pro­fes­sional olive oil asso­ci­a­tion (Interprolive), warned con­sumers that an increase in olive oil fraud is likely due to the short­age. In addi­tion, Morocco may be unable to pro­duce enough olive oil to meet its export com­mit­ments and inter­nal demand.

In Morocco, olive oil is unfor­tu­nately still widely con­sumed in bulk,” he told local media. According to our esti­mates, this mode of con­sump­tion rep­re­sents 85 per­cent of national con­sump­tion and leaves the field open to var­i­ous meth­ods of fraud since there is no real way to check whether such oil is adul­ter­ated.”

Benali said most fraud hap­pens when vir­gin or extra vir­gin olive oil is mixed with non-vir­gin or veg­etable oils.

These prac­tices are not harm­ful to health and are even tol­er­ated in some coun­tries, pro­vided that it is indi­cated on the pack­ag­ing that it is a mixed oil,” he said. In our coun­try, these prac­tices are pro­hib­ited and con­sid­ered out­right fraud.”

According to Benali, it is still early to com­ment on pre­cise fig­ures regard­ing the pro­duc­tion drop. He said that 70 per­cent of olive groves in the coun­try are rain­fed and were heav­ily exposed to the impacts of the drought.

Additionally, the sever­ity of the cur­rent drought has also resulted in cuts to irri­gated groves as local offi­cials seek to pre­serve water reserves.

Benali also warned that olive oil prices in sev­eral areas could go up to 100 dirham (€9.04) per liter.

Over the past few decades, Morocco has steadily increased its olive oil pro­duc­tion due to mas­sive olive tree cul­ti­va­tion projects, with yields exceed­ing 200,000 tons in two dif­fer­ent crop years.

According to the International Olive Council, Morocco exported 28,000 tons of olive oil in the 2021/22 crop year, while domes­tic con­sump­tion rose to 150,000 tons.

In the last sev­eral decades, domes­tic con­sump­tion has grown sig­nif­i­cantly, ris­ing from 37,000 tons in 1990/91.

Rising olive oil prices have not been lim­ited to Morocco. Poor har­vests through­out North Africa and south­ern and west­ern Europe have resulted in price rises across the olive oil world. Some experts antic­i­pate fur­ther price rises as the crop year con­tin­ues.


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