Rate of huge food staple reaches 50 percent in EU


(MENAFN) The European Union is grappling with a significant surge in olive oil prices, witnessing a staggering 50 percent increase in costs over the past year, according to data from Eurostat, the bloc's statistics office. The sharp rise, particularly evident in January, is attributed to adverse weather conditions that have severely impacted olive harvests across the region.

Throughout the latter half of 2023, olive oil prices exhibited a consistent upward trend, with a substantial 37 percent surge in August followed by an alarming 51 percent increase in November 2022. By January, all European Union member states reported notable spikes in the cost of this essential staple, with southern European countries, major olive oil producers, bearing the brunt of the inflation.

Portugal experienced the most significant increase, with a staggering 69.1 percent rise in olive oil prices in January compared to the previous year. Greece closely followed with a 67 percent surge, while Spain, the world's largest olive oil producer and exporter, witnessed a substantial 62.9 percent jump in prices.

Eurostat's data highlights the uneven impact of this price surge, with the smallest increases recorded in Romania (13 percent), Ireland (16 percent), and the Netherlands (18 percent). While Eurostat did not provide detailed explanations for the surge, earlier reports pointed to unfavorable weather conditions, including extreme heatwaves in olive oil-producing nations such as Spain, leading to diminished harvests.

Spain, which experienced a production drop of over 50 percent in the agricultural year 2022-2023 to 675,000 tons, anticipates continued below-average output in 2023-2024. This forecast suggests that olive oil prices are likely to see further increases, prompting concerns within the industry. Experts caution that any significant price relief is unlikely until at least 2025.

The implications of this olive oil price surge extend beyond economic considerations, affecting consumers, producers, and the broader agricultural landscape in the European Union. The unprecedented nature of the increase underscores the vulnerability of agricultural sectors to climate-related challenges and prompts discussions about potential measures to mitigate the impact on essential food staples in the face of climate change.

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