Olive oil prices have skyrocketed to the highest levels ever recorded and have sparked a new wave of cooking oil thefts across the United States. In the past three weeks, prices for extra-virgin olive oil have jumped to more than $100 a gallon, a 40-percent increase over the same period last year.
The surge in prices, which is attributed to a bumper crop of olives in the Mediterranean, has resulted in increased thefts of olive oil from stores and restaurants. In Chicago, police have seen a spike in thefts of olive oil, with some stores reporting thefts of more than 25 gallons at a time.
The rising price of olive oil has also impacted restaurant owners, who have seen their food costs skyrocket and are now forced to pass those costs on to consumers. Many chefs have switched to cheaper vegetable oils in order to keep their prices low, while still providing quality ingredients to their customers.
At the same time, olive oil producers have seen a huge increase in sales, as consumers seek out the higher-priced, quality oils for their cooking needs. Many olive oil producers are also seeing unprecedented demand for their products, with orders coming in from as far away as Australia and Japan.
Olive oil prices are bound to come down eventually, but until then, consumers will have to bear the brunt of the higher costs. Restaurant owners will have to find creative ways to keep their prices low while still using quality ingredients, and law enforcement will have to do their part in curtailing cooking oil thefts. It’s a challenging time for everyone involved, but it’s a testament to the popularity of the versatile ingredient: no matter what the price, it seems that olive oil will always be in high demand.