Olive oil prices have been on the rise over the past few years, but now they have surged to a record high. Prices have skyrocketed to over $100 per litre, a number that has never been seen before in the European and worldwide markets. This surge has been attributed to several factors, including diminishing harvests due to climate change, a weak dollar, and an increased demand from new markets, such as China.
The surge in price has had far-reaching implications beyond the pockets of producers and the food chains they supply. It has also brought light to the issue of olive oil thefts. Newly-affordable luxury items, such as high-end olive oils, have become targets for thefts in many countries, including Italy, France, Spain, and Greece. Recently, Italian police uncovered a large underground market in Rome where thieves were selling giant stolen containers of premium-brand olive oils, at very competitive prices.
Aside from economic implications, the surge of olive oil prices has also had problematic environmental virulence. As more and more artificial or low-quality oils are taking the place of higher-end, healthier options, the olive oil industry is being pushed toward the brink of collapse. And with no quick solution in sight, many producers are slowly being forced out of work, threatening the cultural heritage of many Mediterranean countries.
The surge in olive oil prices may be an unfortunate side-effect of the modern world, but it has raised awareness of another, equally important issue. And although cooking oil theft is a small problem in the grand scheme of things, it’s one that needs to be addressed, before it becomes a much larger issue.