The End of Olive Oil Is Also Far Away

According to a story in The Irish Times, “‘worst ever crop’ down to climate change, say Italy's olive farmers.”  At The Ecologist, we read that “climate turbulence deals costly blow to olive oil yield,” and that the price of this “favourite culinary ingredient is rising fast – driven in large part by changes in climate.”  The climate change section at also covered the alarmism over olive oil production.  Farmers in major olive oil-producing countries like Italy are apparently hysterical about how the effects of climate change are ravaging their industry.

Conveniently, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization keeps a handy database of olive oil production by country and region dating back to 1961.  Italy's olive oil production trend has been steadily and continuously increasing since records began, including over the past couple decades.  And as the chart below shows, olive oil production in Europe and globally is still increasing.

I must be missing something, but I am not seeing any climate change-induced reduction in olive oil production in Europe, or at the global scale.  Quite the opposite.  In other major European producers like Spain – which is mentioned in The Ecologist's story and “accounts for nearly 50% of total world olive oil production” – production has tripled over the past two decades.

Olive production itself has been skyrocketing in Europe up to the present over the last half-century.  All of the top ten production years have taken place since 2001, and 18 of the 19 top years have been since 1996.  Yields are also increasing rapidly over the past three decades.

We see the same trends for world olive production.  Namely, yields and production are increasing.  The last year of global production data (2013) was the second highest on record, only 0.4 percent below the record harvest set only two years before in 2011.  The last 18 years of global olive production have been the 18 highest ever, including the top 3 during the last 4 years (2012 was still a good year – ranked 10th best), the top 4 during the last 5 years, and on it goes.

Here is the nominal (i.e., not inflation-adjusted) price for extra virgin olive oil dating back all the way to 1984 courtesy of Index Mundi.  See any climate change impacts?  No chance.

In fact, since one dollar in1984 has the same buying power as $2.29 today, the current price of olive oil appears to be lower in real dollar terms than it was 30 years ago.

As with other foods, the olive oil apocalypse doesn't appear to be on the horizon.