Olive Oil Sales Drop As Prices Continue To Spiral

A man pouring olive oil

Sales of the liquid gold are notably dropping. Credit: Jcomp/Freepik

Olive oil prices have surged to nearly or even exceeding €10 per litre, prompting some supermarkets to attach security alarms to bottles to deter theft.

These record prices are making it challenging for many consumers, and supermarkets are already noticing changes in buying habits.

The price of the liquid gold remains stubbornly high, with no relief in sight, as Spain has grappled with scarce rainfall affecting olive crops.

Despite olive trees thriving in warm climates, this year’s extreme weather has led to one of the worst harvests in two decades, resulting in a shortage of produce.

However, Spain still maintains its position as the world’s leading olive oil exporter, driving up prices.

Sergio Cuberos, General Manager of Maskom, noted that while olive oil is deeply ingrained in Spanish culture, high prices are altering consumption patterns due to their impact on family budgets already strained by inflation.

Cuberos emphasised that record prices are leading to reduced consumption, with a litre bottle now costing as much as a good quality bottle of wine.

Five-litre carafes, costing around €50, are witnessing decreased sales, whereas three-litre carafes, rarely purchased before, are experiencing increased demand.

Consumers are reluctant to abandon olive oil entirely but are compelled to minimise its impact on their shopping bills, marking an adaptation phase.

The primary reason behind these soaring prices is poor harvests.

In the province of Malaga, only 30,000 tonnes have been harvested, a 48 per cent decline from the previous year.

Adequate rainfall during the initial months of the year is crucial for olive blossom development, followed by additional water in October and November, but these conditions have been absent this season.

Aurelio Martín, General Manager of Costasol de Hipermercados, overseeing multiple Carrefour supermarkets in the province of Malaga, acknowledged the repercussions of rising costs on consumer behaviour to Sur.

While the number of clients remains steady, olive oil purchases have notably declined.

Unfortunately, there is no immediate relief on the horizon. Agricultural associations like Asaja have warned that the outlook for the 2023-24 harvest is equally grim, with expectations mirroring the current season.

European Union forecasts indicate a 54 per cent reduction in olive oil production nationwide, with the average price of extra virgin olive oil reaching €9.42 a litre or more, according to Spain’s OCU consumers’ organisation.

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Written by

Jo Pugh

Jo Pugh is a journalist based in the Costa Blanca North. Originally from London, she has been involved in journalism and photography for 20 years. She has lived in Spain for 12 years, and is a dedicated and passionate writer.