Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) prices in Greece are skyrocketing even before the harvest for 2023. Experts say that oil production will not exceed a maximum of 180,000 tons, or about what Crete alone produced last season.
Focusing on Crete, the vice president of the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Heraklion, Myron Chiletzakis, said the island will not reach 40,000 tons this year. Chiletzakis also noted that the wholesale price of olive oil in Crete is around €8.40 ($9) per liter. This means the retail price will be around €12 to €15 during the Winter months.
The world outlook is the same. The International Olive Council has blamed climate change and extreme drought as causing a complex situation just short of an EVOO crisis. This Summer’s intense heat wave at a critical time was devastating for most growers in Greece, Italy, Spain, and the Eastern Mediterranean.
In Syria, for instance, growers and consumers are looking at a massive downturn in oil production this harvest season. The Ministry of Agriculture recently released a report projecting production to reach an estimated 49,000 metric tonnes, compared to 140,000 metric tonnes produced in 2022/23.
Finally, on the consumer end of the situation, a recent US Department of Agriculture (USDA) report reveals that the average price in August was 130% higher than the previous year. Worldwide wholesale prices have gone so high that the criminal world has turned to high-jacking shipments. One report told of 50,000 liters of extra virgin olive oil, valued at over €420,000 ($450,000), stolen from a Spanish oil mill in August.
Here in Crete, the blooming oil prices for EVOO will make the commodity known as “Liquid Gold” a genuine luxury item, especially for hotels and restaurants serving different varieties. We have tasted several award-winning brands, including Lassithi’s Skoutari (Instagram above) and Taxidi, at the famous Peskesi restaurant in Heraklion. I cannot imagine what prices Crete’s best high-quality finishing oils will bring after the harvest. The bottom line is that producers and consumers will measure each drop this year.