Vehicles loaded with olives backed up on the road to la Tafona olive press in Caimari. | Aina Borràs

Mallorcan olive oil is like gold.
The road to Sa Tafona de Caimari has been packed this week with people wanting to have their own olives pressed as the price of olive oil goes through the roof.

All week, dozens of vehicles with their boots loaded with olives have been queuing up since half past five in the morning.

This season’s good harvest has meant that many small producers have decided to harvest the fruit and want to produce their own oil.

Such has been the demand that in the middle of this week, Sa Tafona de Caimari closed its doors because they could not cope with demand which is expected to continue growing.

Olive oil, a daily staple of Mediterranean cuisine and the life of many a salad throughout Europe, is experiencing a staggering rise in price. It’s a prime example of how food still outruns overall inflation in the European Union.

Related news

Olive oil has increased by about 75% since January 2021, dwarfing overall annual inflation that has already been considered unusually high over the past few years and even stood at 11.5% in October last year. And much of the food inflation has come over the past two years alone.
In Spain, the world’s biggest olive oil producer, prices jumped 53% in August compared to the previous year and a massive 115% since August 2021.

Apart from olive oil, “potato prices were also on a staggering rise,” according to EU statistical agency Eurostat. “Since January 2021, prices for potatoes increased by 53% in September 2023.
And if high- and middle-income families can shrug off such increases relatively easily, it becomes an ever increasing burden for poorer families, many of which have been unable to even match an increase of their wages to the overall inflation index.

Grocery prices have risen more sharply in Europe than in other advanced economies — from the U.S. to Japan — driven by higher energy and labor costs and the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine. That is even though costs for food commodities have fallen for months.

Even if ETUC blames profiteering of big agroindustry in times of crisis, the olive oil sector has faced its own challenges.

In Spain, for example, farmers and experts primarily blame the nearly two-year drought, higher temperatures affecting flowering and inflation affecting fertilizer prices. Spain’s Agriculture Ministry said that it expects olive oil production for the 2023-24 campaign to be nearly 35% down on average production for the past four years.