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Olive Oil Becoming Luxury as Prices Skyrocket in Greece

Olive Oil Greece
The retail price of olive oil could reach €15 per liter. Credit: Tabibak / CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Olive oil, an essential part of culture and cuisine in Greece, is becoming a luxury good because of skyrocketing prices, the president of one of Greece’s major olive producers’ union said Saturday.

The wholesale price of olive oil in Crete, one of the country’s biggest olive oil-producing regions, is currently around €8.40 ($9) per liter, which means its retail price would be around €12 to €15 during the winter, Myron Chiletzakis, vice president of the Heraklion Agricultural Cooperative (EASH) told major broadcaster OpenTV.

Also speaking to public broadcaster ERT, he argued that 80 percent of the country’s olive oil production is exported and that is also behind skyrocketing prices domestically. He complained that the Greek authorities did not foresee the drop in production, as Turkey did, which banned exports.

Analysts say that the reasons for the skyrocketing prices of olive oil also include high VAT, weather conditions and natural disasters, high production costs and labor shortages, as well as profiteering by traders.

Rise in price of olive oil in Greece due to decrease in production

The rise in the price of olive oil is due to the decrease in production in all Mediterranean countries. It started in Spain, the world’s leading producer of olive oil.

Spain’s olive oil production in the recent season has slumped to around 610,000 tons—a drop of more than fifty percent compared to the usual 1.3 to 1.5 million tons, following a two-year drought and record heat.

“Adding to the complexity of the situation are concerns about reduced production in other major European olive oil-producing countries, including Italy and Greece, where drought conditions prevail,” Mintec’s oilseeds and vegetable oils analyst, Kyle Holland, told CNBC.

Greece and Italy are the second and third largest producers of olive oil, according to the International Olive Council, an intergovernmental organization made up of members that make up more than ninety-eight percent of olive production globally.

Prices of olive oil in Spain’s Andalusia soared to €8.45 ($9.02) per kilogram in September, Mintec’s benchmark showed. It marks the “highest price ever recorded for Spanish olive oil” based on the company’s data spanning over twenty to thirty years and represents a year-on-year jump of 111 percent.

The soaring prices, of what’s sometimes referred to as “liquid gold,” have led some supermarkets in Greece to install security devices on the bottles to prevent thefts.

Argophilia reports that thefts of olive oil are happening in small villages of Crete. It says that approximately two hundred liters worth around two thousand euros have been stolen recently within twenty-four hours.

Thieves try to steal large quantities of olive oil to sell as their own given its high value.

Related: The Law on Olive Oil in Greek Restaurants Under Scrutiny

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