Olive Oil Prices are going through the roof

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Hot, muggy weather in Italy attracted olive fruit flies and helped bacteria to flourish, damaging groves. The nation’s production is expected to plunge as much as 50% this season. In Greece, last spring’s heat waves are poised to cut output by about one-fourth. Floods in Andalusia, Spain’s main growing region, ruined its harvest.

At the same time demand is increasing from China and other emerging markets. Spanish producers have had to drain stockpiles to meet export orders, including to the U.S.

The country imports more than 300,000 tons of olive oil a year, more than half of which comes from Italy and Spain. U.S. consumers have so far enjoyed lower prices thanks to a stronger dollar.

Jacob Kenedy, owner of popular Italian restaurant Bocca di Lupo in London, said the importers he uses have absorbed most of that cost, but he can’t get his usual brand. Italian Chef Francesco Mazzei, who runs Sartoria in London’s Mayfair, says he had to raise prices.

“Olive oil is becoming a luxury,” said Mazzei.

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