Olive oil: Is Spain being ripped off?

Why is olive oil more expensive in Spain?

Customer paying at a checkout. Credit: pixinoo/Shutterstock.com

A recent study by the Consumer and User Organization (OCU) has flagged a significant trend: the cost of extra virgin olive oil in Spain is surging past that of its European neighbours.

The OCU released findings that put the spotlight on a pressing concern. It appears that extra virgin olive oil, a cornerstone of Spain’s culinary heritage and a celebrated export, is now markedly more expensive within its own borders compared to other European countries.

Unravelling the price surge

The investigation conducted by the OCU scrutinised the pricing of extra virgin olive oil across 20 online supermarket chains in Spain, Portugal, France, and Italy, focusing on store-brand products.

It uncovered a startling disparity, in Spain, the price of this essential ingredient averages €9 per litre, significantly higher than in neighbouring countries.

In contrast, Portugal offers it for nearly €2 less. The price gap is alarming, with Spain exceeding Portugal’s average by 27 per cent, France by 16 per cent, and Italy by 6 per cent.

These findings have propelled the OCU to demand immediate interventions to rectify this price imbalance.

Searching for answers

Despite Spain’s prominence as a leading olive oil producer, the high domestic prices present a paradox. The OCU’s research dismissed factors such as oil type or origin, pointing instead towards broader market trends and potentially speculative pricing.

VAT rates and recent harvests, while considered, do not seem to justify the escalated pricing, suggesting that the increase is part of a wider surge in oil prices, unrelated to quality improvements or supply shortages.

Call for transparency

With documented price hikes between 22 and 32 per cent across various brands, the situation has prompted a call to action.

The OCU urges the Ministry of Agriculture to conduct a thorough review of the olive oil supply chain, aiming to ensure fairness, prevent exploitation, and safeguard both consumers and the agricultural sector.

In light of these findings, the urgency for accountability and corrective measures is clear. As Spain grapples with this issue, the focus turns to protecting its liquid gold and the interests of those who hold it dear.

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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.