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Olive Oil: How to Get the Best Value When Buying this Kitchen Essential

Olive Oil: How to Get the Best Value When Buying this Kitchen Essential

Today’s market for olive oil and tips for shopping smarter

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Nick Käseberg

Nick Käseberg

Food Editor at Kitchen Stories

Around this time last year, you could get the 500ml extra virgin olive oil for €6. Right now it’s up to €9 with little hope for a future deduction. On top of that, the quality is also not what it used to be.

We love the subtle taste and the flexibility of olive oil, be it for frying, in a dressing or marinade - many Kitchen Stories recipes wouldn't be the same without it.

So it’s definitely worth the time to research and explain why olive oil prices are rising, why they don’t taste as good as before, and how to see the difference. Biggest question is: Which olive oil should you buy?

Why is olive oil so expensive?

According to the Federal Statistical Office, olive oil costs were almost 51% higher this February than last year. One of the main reasons is the long periods of drought in olive-growing countries such as Spain, Italy and Turkey.

Olive trees don’t need a lot of water, but the water resources are too scarce even for them, with little rainfall to support. On top of that, last winter was too warm for the trees to recover. To compensate for all of this, the farmers have to water more, give extra care to the plants and hire more field labor. This means that they’ll use more resources, leading to rising prices.

For example, Spain produces the most olive oil in the world and exports 70% of the EU's resources. Their average produce rate until 2023 was 1.5 million tonnes. However, in 2023, this number was just 665,000 tonnes.

What does the olive crisis mean for us in Germany? We’ll have expect olive oil prices to continue rising. The olive yields will remain low for as long as the climate conditions remain unusual for the crops. Italy is trying to fight the shortage with new olive groves, but olive trees bear fruit only after 10 years they are planted.

How to tell the difference between good and bad oil?

The prices are not the only things to suffer but the quality as well. Stiftung Warentest compared olive oils this March and the results already had some supermarkets withdrawing certain oils from shelves.

You can recognise poor quality olive oil by its musty smell or rancid taste. This can be due to other oils or lesser quality olive oils getting mixed in. The color however, does not say anything about the quality. If it’s greener, the olives used were young, and if it’s more yellow, the olives used were riper.

The polyphenol content in olive oil is also one-sixth lower than it used to be. This active ingredient had health benefits against heart diseases. So, olive oil is less healthy than before as well.

Which olive oil is still worth buying?

- Extra virgin olive oil that you already like for dressings and dishes like bruschetta.
- For frying, go for rapeseed oil or sunflower oil. They are more heat-resistant and are cheaper by 21% compared to last year.
- If you still want the olive oil flavor for cooking, get a frying olive-oil. These have quality olive oils added in them. Overall they are heat-resistant, cheaper to produce and budget friendly.

Published on April 27, 2024

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