If you’ve had to stock up on olive oil lately, you’ve probably noticed that the cost just isn’t what it used to be. Due to terrible weather conditions and insect proliferation in several olive oil producing countries, 2014 is being called “The Black Year” for olive production.
“This is the worst year in memory,” said Pietro Sandali, head of the Italian olive growers consortium, Unaprol. According to The Observer, “The International Olive Council (IOC) says production will hit its lowest level in 15 years and admits there will be an upswing in prices.”
We’ve felt it ourselves here at Alena Kirby, with our bottles of high-quality olive oils imported from Italy costing up to 4 dollars more.
So what exactly happened to all the olives?
“Harvests are down between 40 and 50 per cent on last year in some of the key olive growing regions of Italy, Morocco and Tunisia. In Spain and other parts of the Mediterranean, an exceptionally warm May and June has affected the blooming of trees and the subsequent harvest. During this time moisture is vital to ensure that olives grow. The problem was exacerbated in Spain where trees were already under stress after a higher than average harvest last year,” explained The Daily Mail here.
The International Olive Council (IOC) said production will hit its lowest level in 15 years and supply was down by almost a third.
So why are some olive oils still so cheap?
What’s more, we need to be even more careful when choosing olive oils that are very competitively priced, as there is an ongoing concern that oil with “extra-virgin” claims may be misleading consumers. As we wrote about in 2012 here, not all extra-virgins are created equal. Many olive oils have been found to have been adulterated by other oils, namely pomace oil, “an industrial by-product made from the solid waste of olive mills using industrial solvents and high heat” (from the Blog Truth in Olive Oil), among others. We don’t have an olive oil watchdog here in Canada; the industry is expected to regulate itself. As a result we can’t really be certain about the true origin or composition of many of our olive oils (see the Wikipedia article here).
So, despite the slightly higher cost, we are sticking with our certified oils imported from Italy by Maria Loggia, our favorite local celebrity chef, author and teacher. We are assured that, should 2015 prove to be a better year, we can expect a decrease in the cost of the oils. Click here to see our selection of high-quality Extra-Virgin Olive Oils.