Borri says the olive harvest in Italy is abysmal, and has greatly impacted the country’s largest suppliers. Eataly, he says, buys most of its extra-virgin olive oil from small producers, which in many cases have fared better than the larger suppliers.
But it’s not just the Italian harvest that has taken a beating. Flooding in Spain and a heat wave in Greece have also damaged olive crops in those countries. Greece, for example, lost 25 percent of its harvest and Spain 50 percent.
The bad harvests come at a time when the popularity of olive oil has reached an all-time high. Worldwide demand has increased 75 percent in the past 25 years, driven mostly by specialty markets. According to statistics from the North American Olive Oil Association, the Greeks use more than 6.3 gallons (24 liters) of olive oil a year per person; the Spanish nearly 4 gallons (15 liters); and the Italians about 3.4 gallons (13 liters). By contrast, Americans use barely more than 1 quart (1 liter) per person each year, while Canadians use a bit more than 1.5 quarts (1.5 liters).There could be another worldwide olive oil crisis looming,