Drought, blight threaten to press up olive oil price

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Fewer olives rolling into farmers’ nets this autumn makes a recipe for higher prices when combined with ever-mounting demand worldwide.

Olive oil has long been a staple of the Mediterranean diet, and over recent decades it has become popular in cooking in many parts of the world because of its perceived benefits for health.

Demand has surged by 60 percent in the past 20 years, driven by China, the United States, Australia and Canada, according to the International Olive Oil Council.

Praying for rain

Spain produced 1.77 million tonnes of olives in the last harvest from October 2013 to June 2014, according to the agriculture ministry.

“Last season was exceptional. Production was very big,” 40 percent higher than the average of the previous four years, said Cristobal Gallego, an olive oil official for a cooperative of food producers in Andalusia.

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