Extra Virgin Olive Oil Prices Are Going Up. Here’s Why

Importing authentic Italian extra virgin olive oil from producers we trust is a cornerstone of who we are here at Gustiamo. It’s a wonderful but not easy job: increased fraud coupled with climate change means producing and selling extra virgin olive oil is becoming more challenging than ever.

To put it simply, rising demand plus falling production equals increased prices and olive oil fraud. Barbie Latza Nadeau investigated the root causes of this phenomenon in her piece for CNN, “Extra virgin olive oil is getting very expensive. And it might not even be real”.

Rising Demand

Extra virgin olive oil is one of the world’s highest-value global exports with a market expected to rise exponentially over the next 10 years. We’re not surprised: EVOO is a staple of the Mediterranean diet and one of the healthiest fats you can use when cooking. It’s endlessly versatile; suited for drizzling, sautéing, or deep-frying. Increased awareness of EVOO’s health benefits is a key factor contributing to this rising demand.

Falling Production

Coldiretti, the organization representing 1.5 million Italian farmers, reports that Mediterranean olive oil production was down by 41% in 2023. That’s a very scary number.

“An extremely wet spring meant olive trees flowered less and record-setting heat in the summer shriveled the olives that did grow.”

All seven of our EVOO producers faced an exceptionally challenging year due to climate change. The olives themselves were smaller, as was the overall yield. This means they produced less olive oil than usual (but always of the greatest quality), so they had to increase their prices to cover the high costs of production.

olive crates in olive grove

More Fraud

A serious consequence of rising demand and falling production is a sharp uptick in fraud. Criminals have moved in to fill the supply gaps. To quote CNN:

Behind the most popular extra virgin olive oils in the world are equally lucrative criminal enterprises cashing in on the gold rush by selling fake liquid gold that uses sunflower, canola or even lamp oil to create a product that can retail for up to $30 a liter in the United States [with] false labeling that claims the oil is 100% Italian or Spanish.

According to Europol, mixing “consumer-grade olive oil with lower grade alternatives” allows them to “offer competitive prices while entering legal supply chains.” But the thieves still need quality olives upon which to base their blends. This has led to the theft of especially productive olive branches, or even the entire tree. So, how do you know what oil actually is in the bottle you’re buying? Lamp oil or stolen oil?

We can’t stress this enough: buy your olive oil from sources you can trust. Here at Gustiamo, we strive to be as transparent as possible with our customers so you know exactly what you’re getting. We’ve nurtured relationships with our olive oil producers for years. We talk to these farmers every other day. Each of their bottles surely contains extraordinary EVOO, but it represents more than that: it’s the chance to support a honest way to do business in an industry in total turmoil, it’s the expression of a territory that would disappear if it wasn’t for farmers, it’s the proof that making real EVOO without cutting corners is not only possible, it is worthwhile.