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As the price of extra virgin olive oil at source continues to drop, how much longer will shoppers have to wait to pay less at the supermarket?
Retail

As the price of extra virgin olive oil at source continues to drop, how much longer will shoppers have to wait to pay less at the supermarket?

After complaints from consumer associations in Spain, distributors point out that the current price on the shelves is based on purchases that were made when the market was at its highest

Matías Stuber

Malaga

Monday, 29 April 2024, 16:55

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Extra virgin olive oil will continue to be expensive in Spain for some time longer yet, although the price at source of the product has dropped following much-needed rain in March.

The rainfall was a blessing for the olive groves and allows the 2024-25 season to be faced with "good expectations". The positive forecasts have caused the price at source to drop in the past few weeks. While in January the price was still eight euros per litre of extra virgin olive oil, at the start of April it was already falling to 6.88 euros. This drop, however, has not yet made it to supermarket shelves, where it will take some time to be reflected.

In a recent statement, the consumer association Facua criticised possible malpractice from supermarkets in Spain. "The price of oil in large supermarkets and hypermarkets has continued to rise so far this year despite the fact that it has been falling at source for 12 consecutive weeks", it said. It called on supermarkets to "prove the reasons" behind the continued price increases.

SUR contacted distributors and farmers, who pointed out it is "normal" the drop in the price at source is not immediately applied to what the consumer pays. Commercial director of Ybarra, Pedro J. Rico de la Rosa, said supermarkets go to the market with the aim of guaranteeing supply in the short and medium term. "These purchases are made three or four months in advance. You don't have to look at the price of origin now, you have to look at what it was two or three months ago, when the product that is now on the shelves was purchased," he said.

So when can we expect to see lower prices in supermarkets? De la Rosa did not point to a specific date, but a "progressive" adaptation of prices, as long as expectations are maintained the next harvest will be a good one. As in the stock market, prices are not built on the current situation, they are built on future forecasts. The possibility of the market recovering, with strong production next year, explains why the price of oil at source has left behind the upward trend of the past few months.

Campillos Cooperative president Benito Avilés said the situation of the olive groves in Malaga can change from one day to the next. "A heat wave like the one we had last year in May can ruin the crop. It's not just a question of getting enough rain. Many factors have an influence," he said. A drop in prices in the supermarkets, as long as expectations of a good harvest become a reality, would not arrive until September or October.

Sources in the sector are confident the price of oil will fall. Paying less than eight euros for a litre of extra virgin olive oil is almost a miracle. However, they are all confident the price will stabilise "between five or six euros". Although the groves are now in good condition, new rains would help to go from a good harvest to being able to expect "a very good harvest". Consumers, however, still have to wait.

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