Darling, can we survive without olive oil? Squeezed middle classes now face shortage of their favourite foods

 

As if the squeezed middle classes hadn't suffered enough of late at the hands of George Osborne and co, now a shortage of their favourite foods threatens to leave their cupboards bare.

Last week, a dearth of Halkidiki olives, blamed on a poor crop after bad weather in Greece, was said to have led to a 50 per cent price rise.

The news came after a shortage of Green & Black's organic almond chocolate bars was revealed by The Independent. California – where 80 per cent of the world's almonds are grown – had the double whammy of a slump in bee populations, causing problems with pollination, and a severe drought in the US state. UK importers report a price increase of up to 35 per cent.

Earlier this month, demand for goat's cheese, which tops off salads the length and breadth of Britain, was thwarted by a dramatic slump in supplies. There has been a major cull of goats across Europe after an outbreak of Q fever, a tick-borne disease.

Foodies have also been left reeling after a crisis in the trade of extra virgin olive oil, after Spain, which produces 50 per cent of the world's olive crop, suffered a drought that has slashed yields by 62 per cent. The drop in supply comes when the demand for olive oil is at an all-time high, as more people develop a taste for the kitchen staple.

Sam Higgins, a senior product marketing manager at RH Amar, a fines foods distributor, told trade magazine The Grocer: "Some olive supplies will struggle to meet existing contracts, with the impact of this felt as soon as the next one or two months."

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