The Olive oil crisis has been making news for years now. According to industry analysts, several continuing problems have been causing hardship for the olive oil sector for the better part of the last ten years, and the situation is becoming worse.
The Olive Oil Crisis And Fast-Expanding Bacteria: A fast-expanding bacteria that kills olive trees is the main issue. This, along with production concerns linked to COVID and supply chain issues (linked to Russia-Ukraine conflict), is having a disastrous impact on the availability of the most popular healthy oil in the World, especially in the USA. The problem began when over a decade ago, the olive trees in Italy were threatened by a bacteria, Xylella fastidiosa. The estimated number of trees killed in Italy are almost 20 million in Puglia, according to Atlas Obscura. Furthermore, the publication discussed how severe diseases lend trees a sickly pale tint and give them "no hope of survival." Since then, a bacteria, which is carried by insects called Philaenus Spumarius that feed on tree sap, has expanded outside of Puglia, which produces 12% of the globe's olive oil. According to Atlas Obscura, it has now reached all of Italy and other Mediterranean countries are in danger. One of the most significant issues with these bacterias destroying the olive oil trees is that affected crops cannot be exported around the World as they do not meet the health standards. Sogno Toscano’s owner, Pietro Brembilla, fears an unforeseeable future and says, “ This is the most critical time (for olive oil).” In an interview with The Newyork Post, the Tuscan business (Sogno Toscano) that delivers the best boots to the USA said, “ In the last five years, the lethal blight has reduced productivity by around 50%. Crops are being ruined by it. I am somewhat concerned. Although I love my country, I feel we are not doing the best we can about the issue. Only gradual progress has been made (in resolving this blight issue).” Unlike Mr. Brembilla, another expert Francesco D’Onofrio said that the government-initiated plans like new tree planting in masses is successfully combating the blight. The sourcing
officer in a retailer Supermarket Italy said, “I met with many influential Italian producers, and they did not find any issues with the crops for the harvest in 2023,” as he expressed his optimism about the situation.
The Pandemic: While talking about any recent or old crisis, we can’t ignore the adverse effects of the Pandemic. The pandemic has hampered the cost-effectiveness, production, and shipping of olive oil. Significant price rises are because of labor shortages, problems with the supply chain, growing energy costs, and massive backlogs at ports across the world, especially the ports of the USA. Brembilla and one of his steadfast customers of ten years, Dave Greco of Mike's Deli in The Bronx, claim that the malfunctioning ports have resulted in an excessive price increase in shipments of between 400 and 500 percent. Greco discussed that imports like olive oil and even canned tomatoes now cost between $9,000 and $12,000 per container, up from the previous price of $4,000 for the same items. Dave Greco and numerous other local merchants were therefore compelled to hike their prices as a result.
The Russia-Ukraine Conflict: The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has worked as the “cherry on top”, in this situation, according to Brembilla. Sunflower oil output in Ukraine, which had previously led the globe, has ceased since the Russian invasion. According to Brembilla, manufacturers have turned to substituting olive oil with sunflower oil, raising the price of some olive oil brands by as much as 40%. Brembilla is concerned about the long-term implications the blight may have on Italy and one of its most well-known commodities in addition to the frightening blight itself.
Conclusion: All in all, continuous plans are being made to improve the olive oil crisis, yet the shortage will take quite some time to end.