The Global Shortage of Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2018 was a small olive harvest in Italy as widely documented, with yields falling to a 25-year low and fears that the country may not be able to continuously supply demand until the 2019 harvest release.
The major contributing factors were heavy rains, a harsh and earlier winter as well as the on going battle against xylella fastidiosa, a pest born disease that has destroyed vast swathes of olive groves. In Puglia where 50 percent of Italian Olive Oil derives, production was down by 65 percent last autumn. I don’t wish to make light of these issues, they are very real and they have already had a huge affect on local livelihoods.
From the consumer’s perspective this is also rather serious as market prices for generic Italian Olive Oil have risen by 31% this year, driven by the shortage and you will begin to see this reflected on the supermarket shelf shortly.
The major risk in a year such as this is that lesser quality oils or those that come from elsewhere will fill the demand. And all the while, you will still find ‘Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil’ on the label. Unfortunately, however much we wish this wouldn’t happen, it will.
This is why it’s even more important to know who has made your olive oil, to have a guarantee that it is extra virgin quality, to know the groves, know which olives are in each bottle, know the mill, know the family. This year, a few of our producers informed us that there were oils they just weren’t able to make – their standards are so exceptionally high that if they don’t feel the quality will be there to put their name to it, they would rather just not produce it. I find this incredibly reassuring in years such as this and I hope you do too.
We are a small business and we’re still working with small volumes, which means we get to pick the very best oils for you, even in challenging harvests such as 2018. We taste extensively on your behalf and deal directly with the owner of each frantoio. These guarantees are therefore personal and we believe that makes a real difference.