Drought causes worldwide olive shortage

03/17/2013 08:44

Olive Oil lovers beware.

9PSAT OLIVE OIL SHORTAGEA record poor harvest in the world's biggest olive producing region is starting to hit home.

And prices for the olives, and olive oil are rising fast, so whether you buy it for the taste or for the health benefits, your favorite olive oil could cost you more.

"It's impacted as much as $15 to $20 per, I get them in three gallon containers and the prices have definitely went up," said Michelle Kulesa, owner of Ja Jora Olive Oil Company in Bellevue.

The cause? As much as a 60 percent drop in the fall 2012 harvest in Spain and the Mediterranean, the world's largest olive producing region.

Kulesa says there are other countries like Tunisia and Australia, among others, that produce olives.

But Gordon Cole, owner of The Olive Cellar in Appleton, says it is not stopping the price increases.

"The price is going to go up and it's going to stay up, and it's not going to come back down. And if you have another bad crop next year, it's going to be devastating, it will go up 25 percent," Cole said.

The shortage could affect grocery stores and even restaurants. Though restaurant owners we spoke to say they don't have plans to raise prices right now. But like the olive oil specialty stores they may not be able to completely absorb a major price increase.

"We'll absorb some of it, but I can't absorb all of 20 percent," said Cole

Kulesa says right now she's not carrying olive oils from Spain.

"We can choose to offer other varieties of olive oils, not necessarily just the Spanish blends, but over time if the distributor only starts to carry Spanish blend oils then yeah the prices will have to go up."

Because of the shortage, Cole also cautions consumers to watch for olive oils that claim to be 100 percent extra virgin, that are anything but.

"They'll add seed oils to keep the price low. They'll blend last year's oils with this year's oils so instead of a high quality extra virgin, you'll get a low quality oil, but they'll still call it extra virgin olive oil."

Advice to help health-conscious consumers make sure they get what they pay for.

Both owners say the difference between high quality and low quality oils lies in the taste. They also say the higher quality oils provide better health benefits.  FOX11Online

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