Drought, blight threaten to press up olive oil price

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Months of dry weather have struck Andalusia in the south of Spain, the world’s biggest producer of the “yellow gold”.In the second-biggest grower Italy, the bacteria xylella fastidiosa has shrivelled olive branches in the southern Puglia region.

“Prices will rise by 30 to 40 percent because there will be fewer olives and therefore less oil produced,” said one olive farmer in Puglia, Raffaele Piano.

“But quality will not be affected,” he told AFP.

“There is no cure. The only solution is to burn the infected trees to stop the bacteria spreading quickly.”

Producers in parched Spain say they expect their prices to rise too over the coming months as the October harvest approaches, but hesitate to forecast by how much.

In an early warning sign, the market price of virgin olive oil has crept up over recent weeks from EUR 2.40 euros to EUR 2.70 euros (USD 3.59) a kilogram, says the Spanish olive oil federation Infaoliva.

It warns the rise will continue.

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