Olive oil prices are skyrocketing this summer. In Catalonia, the extra virgin category exceeded 8 euros per liter in mid-July, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture. That figure is very close for the first time to the prices of Italian olive oil (8.79 euros per liter), the most expensive in the world. It is not an isolated phenomenon. As the graph shows, the rise in prices affects several producing countries in the Mediterranean: Spain – the world’s largest oil producer – Italy, Greece and Tunisia.
“We are facing historical records because of inflation and, above all, climate change. The drought and extreme temperatures are causing losses in the last harvests and olive production is falling year after year”, warns Jordi Pasqual, national manager of the oil sector of Unió de Pagesos.
Farmers warn of the seriousness of the situation. The future of the sector –formed by 27,500 farms in Catalonia– is in danger, since it depends directly on the evolution of the climate.
Faced with this situation, which will hardly improve, the sector is demanding aid from the Government and the Generalitat. So far, without much success. Joan Gòdia, director of Indústries Alimentàries of the Generalitat, explains that next September there will be a meeting with those affected. Gòdia recalls that the Generalitat is currently processing subsidies for the effects of last year’s drought. They will be granted to different cooperatives of olive oil producers for a value of about 200,000 euros.
Regarding the collection of insurance, Unió de Pagesos regrets the difficulties in obtaining them. “The conditions established by Agroseguro are very strict. For example, you must lose at least 50% of the harvest for the technicians to come to analyze the land”, laments Pasqual.
The Catalan harvest was reduced by 50% in 2022 and this year it is expected to drop another 50% at least
Beyond insurance and subsidies, which serve to alleviate the current situation, Gòdia points out that the sector must seek solutions to guarantee its future. The planting of trees that are better adapted to the weather seems the best option given the difficulties of increasing the amounts of irrigation.