Beware the Impending Olive Oil Shortage

By Mike Pomranz |

© Arco Images GmbH / Alamy

Last year, people consumed 3 million tons of olive oil. That’s a lot of bread dipping. This year, however, world production is predicted to be around 2.56 million tons. You don’t have to be a math genius to realize that adds up to a possible olive oil shortage.

According to Eater, this year’s numbers are “nearly 20 percent lower than years past.” The bulk of the problem comes from Spain, where a hot summer led to around a 50 percent drop in the country’s crop. Though Americans tend to associate olive oil more with Greek or Italian cuisine, Spain easily tops the list of producers, consistently accounting for well over a third of olive oil made worldwide. In fact, production in many other countries has remained stable or even increased, but not enough to offset Spain’s woes.

As with any shortage, the cost could be passed on to consumers. Last month, bottlers said they were already paying 20 to 40 percent more than they were in back May. Walter Zanre, managing director of olive oil seller Filippo Berio, blamed wholesalers for taking advantage of the situation, telling the Guardian, "Currently it is very difficult to purchase wholesale bulk olive oil in Spain as producers are withholding stock in anticipation of higher prices later in the year.”

Ugh. So much drama. I’m Just putting spicy mustard on my hoagie instead.

Related: Sesame, Mustard and Olive Oils Now Enhancing Cocktails 
6 Shocking Stats from the Impending Coffee Shortage 
5 Things to do with Olive Oil, From an Italian Multitasker