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Officials: Higher olive oil prices, decreased production should not affect Arizona

(Flickr/Maya83)

PHOENIX — The price of olive oil is expected to jump by as much as 20 percent this year, further slashing production levels that already have been cut in half, but fans of the Italian delicacy who live in Arizona should not worry.

While olive oil prices in Arizona could increase slightly, officials with the Arizona Farm Bureau said it should not affect production levels here in the Valley.

Julie Murphree, a spokeswoman with the bureau, said the state has four “very high quality” olive oil producers that will continue to produce “fresh varieties like extra-virgin olive oil,” despite rising costs overseas.

The price increase is attributed to a year of bad weather and bacteria and affects the U.S., which is the third-largest consumer of olive oil worldwide.

Italian wholesale prices of olive oil have increased by 64 percent as of mid-February compared with a year earlier, which translates to shelf price increases of 15 to 20 percent in Italy.

In other countries, the ultimate price increases will depend on several factors – such as how much retailers take on the costs themselves and the change in currency values. The U.S., for example, is likely to see a more modest rise in price as a stronger dollar keeps a lid on the cost of imports.

Italy’s harvest was especially hard hit by the combination of early rains that knocked buds off the trees and the threat of an olive fly that forced an early harvest, further cutting yields. Wholesale prices of olive oil from Spain, the world’s largest producers, are up a more modest 10 percent, with yields similar to last year’s.

KTAR News’ Kathy Cline and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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