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

  • @Paul_Bignell

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."