Olive oil price hikes, what are the best alternatives?

Olive oil: What are the alternatives?

The future of olive oil in Spain. Credit: Elena Veselova/Shutterstock.com

Recent data has underscored the growing concern among Spanish consumers regarding the soaring prices of olive oil, a commodity often referred to as ‘liquid gold.’

In January of this year, according to Eurostat, Spain witnessed a staggering 63 per cent increase in olive oil prices compared to the same period last year, marking the third-largest year-on-year rise across the European Union.

The stark reality of olive oil pricing

A similar report by Facua-Consumidores en Accion revealed a 69 per cent hike in the price of extra virgin olive oil over the past year, making it the most expensive food item in this timeframe, despite a reduction in VAT.

These figures reveal the severity of the situation, which may be further exacerbated by a warning from an olive oil expert.

Prediction for olive oil’s future

Commentators have sounded the alarm on the ongoing crisis and now predict a possible shortage of extra virgin olive oil on supermarket shelves.

The grim forecast is attributed to severe drought conditions and a diminished olive harvest. Farmer and agricultural consultant, Daniel Trenado highlighted the current production shortfall: ‘At this moment we are not being able to supply the markets as we should.’

He suggests a clearer picture will emerge in May, indicating a challenging period ahead for olive oil availability and pricing.

When will olive oil prices decrease?

The future pricing of olive oil remains uncertain, with economist Gonzalo Bernardos cautioning that a price drop may not occur until the harvest outcomes of 2025 are assessed. This timeframe suggests consumers may have to brace for high olive oil prices for some time.

Olive oil alternatives

In light of these challenges, the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU) has proposed several alternatives. For raw consumption, walnut or pumpkin seed oils offer aromatic options.

For milder requirements, such as in mayonnaise, blending delicate olive oil with neutral oils like sunflower, soy, or rapeseed is recommended.

For cooking methods involving high temperatures, such as frying or sautéing, the OCU suggests choosing fats like refined olive oil, high oleic sunflower oil, or olive pomace oil that maintain stability under heat.

High oleic sunflower oil also serves as a suitable option for baking, providing a neutral flavour that withstands temperature changes.

Additionally, butter and cream are mentioned as animal-based alternatives, though it’s noted that butter’s high saturated fat content may not be ideal for all uses.

Regardless of the alternative chosen, the OCU emphasizes the importance of moderate fat consumption and the correct frying technique to ensure food health and safety.

As the olive oil market faces unprecedented challenges, consumers and industry stakeholders alike are urged to navigate this crisis with informed choices and potential alternatives.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.