Spain is running out of olive oil!

A terrible harvest for 2023 Credit: Shutterstock/1545682139

Although Spain rejoiced in a short burst of rain recently, it seems that the disastrous effects of the nationwide drought still continue to mount. 

In what is being described as a ‘national disaster’, Spain is rapidly running out of one of its favourite products, their ‘liquid gold’: olive oil

Olive trees have been cultivated around the Mediterranean for many centuries, with Spain alone producing over half of the entire world’s supply of olive oil. However, the constant wildfires and soaring summer temperatures in 2023 have resulted in the uncertainty of the future of this ancient industry in the country. 

Now, after a poor December harvest, a stark warning has been issued that Spain could run out of olive oil for the first time ever in its history. As to exactly when this will happen, experts have predicted that it could be as early as September of this year. The end of 2023’s olive harvest figure reached just 321,000 tons, a figure which is regarded as ‘meagre’ and sits as the lowest in 40 years. 

According to analysts at commodities data group Mintec, manufacturers in Spain currently only possess around 115,000 metric tonnes of available olive oil stock, with the country using an average of  about 60,000 tonnes monthly. 

Spanish olive grower Rafa Guzman from Jaen has explained that many farmers are now facing ruin. “The harvest here is down 70-80 per cent, there are some growers who haven’t even had a kilo of olives. Even if olive oil is selling for €8 a bottle, that’s not enough to keep them afloat.”

It is not only Spain that faces this problem, extreme weather in other olive growing countries including Greece, Italy and Portugal as well as Turkey and Morocco have also reported to be in crisis over the shortage, and many European producers are having to import supplies from South America to keep up with demand.

Experts also predict that the situation will get worse with each year, as the climate emergency is expected to mean hotter, drier and more extreme weather events. 

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Written by

Jennifer Popplewell

Jennifer is a proud northerner from Sheffield, England, who is currently living in Spain. She loves swimming in rivers, talking to the stars and eating luxurious chocolate.