Yusuf Khan of The Wall Street Journal reports that Spain, the global heavyweight in olive oil production, is suffering a second year of drought. He writes:
Just off Central Park, chefs at one of New York’s hottest Italian restaurants are pondering how to handle surging prices for a vital ingredient: olive oil.
Marea and other restaurants specializing in Mediterranean food are feeling the pinch as a drought in Spain, by far the world’s biggest producer, pushes up global prices. And with Americans pouring increasing quantities of olive oil onto their salads and into their frying pans in recent years, many households are likely to notice rising costs over time, too.
Olive oil joins other staple foodstuffs—such as cocoa, sugar and robusta coffee beans—that have rocketed in price after extreme weather has damaged harvests.
Marea uses olive oil in almost every dish, getting through about 30 gallons a week, said chef Lauren DeSteno. The restaurant’s signature gnocchetti pairs pasta with shrimp and tomato sauce, and is generously finished with olive oil.
“Our everyday olive oil just went up by about 35% from what we were paying,” said DeSteno, the corporate executive chef for Altamarea Group, Marea’s parent company. “That is a huge increase.” […]
“The principal Mediterranean diet is wine, bread, olive oil, vegetables, meat and fish. So with less olive oil you lose one” of those staples, Pérez said. Her family has grown olive trees for 32 generations.
Sentmarti at Prodeca, the Catalan agency, said he is worried that younger farmers will leave the industry if climate change makes growing the crop no longer seem viable.
“The lifestyle of olive oil has been with us for centuries,” he said. “We call it the golden liquid.”
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