Rising Cost of Olive Oil Rocks Italian Cuisine

(Photo Credit: Curtis Winters/Flickr)
(Photo Credit: Curtis Winters/Flickr)

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Oof, marone!

While the cost of making an authentic Margherita pizza in Italy – the world’s tastiest price index – is still 23% higher than it was roughly two years ago, it is beginning to decline. Unfortunately, the price of olive oil – the dish’s most versatile ingredient – continues to surge, leading many families to spend more on their favorite fundamental, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.

Hard Squeeze

The modern version of pizza was born in Naples in the 18th Century and has remained an Italian essential ever since. It’s a simple meal with only a handful of ingredients with olive oil being its most basic. It’s like the Italian Frank’s RedHot (if you know, you know). Because pizza contains so many staples of the Italian diet, the so-called Margherita Index is something of a bespoke Etruscan cost-of-living signal.

So even though Italians can sigh with relief as the cost of grains, cheeses, vegetables, and energy start to head back toward pre-pandemic levels, you can understand if they’re throwing up their hands and bellowing as they have watched olive oil prices price jump 27% in the past two years:

  • Italy may be a large consumer of olive oil, but Spain is actually the largest producer of the viscous liquid, covering 40% of the world’s inventory. Severe droughts have devastated Spanish olive farms, and the European Commission estimates the country will deliver only half its regular output this year, which in turn raises prices.
  • Despite that decline in stock and increase in cost, Italy is expected to consume 486,500 tons of olive oil in the fiscal year 2022/2023, compared to 481,700 tons the year prior, according to – yes, you’re reading this right – The Olive Oil Times.

Order out: A homemade pizza does sound great, but let’s be honest, it’s a bit of a hassle. Even after you’ve made a mess putting all the ingredients together, you still need an oven capable of maintaining at least 700 degrees Fahrenheit. Thankfully, the cost of going out for a pie in Italy is only 8.5% higher than it was in 2021. So heed the advice of Christopher Moltisanti and “don’t disrespect the pizza parlor.”