No more delicious ladera?

by | Jul 10, 2024 | Lifestyle

Consumers out shopping for a bottle of olive oil at the supermarket during the recent heatwave would hardly have thought that the prematurely high temperatures of mid-June – a phenomenon that is increasing in frequency – would affect its price. They probably wouldn’t make the connection between the weather and chocolate bars, which have also become more expensive, or coffee or wine. Yet heatwaves and product prices are becoming increasingly interconnected as climate change wreaks havoc on global production and markets.

Olive trees all across the Mediterranean are thirsty for water and burning up as Europe’s climate continues to get hotter and hotter, heating up faster than other continents, according to experts. Does this mean that our beloved olive oil is about to become a luxury commodity? Does this mean no more delicious “ladera” vegetable stews with lashings of olive oil or dunking chunks of bread into the heavenly juices left at the bottom of a bowl of “horiatiki” salad?

The problem is not just with olives and olive oil. Vineyards in Bordeaux and Tuscany are suffering from the combined effects of drought and intense rainfall. Winemakers are watching their vines shrivel up, along with their output. The price of cocoa has also skyrocketed, dragging the price of chocolate up as well, because of heatwaves and unusual rainfall events in West Africa, which produces roughly three quarters of the world’s cocoa crop.

Serious drought in Vietnam, the world’s second-biggest coffee producer, has massively pushed up the price of the robusta variety, which represents about 40% of global output, to a 45-year high.

Many parts of the world that are traditionally famed for the goods they produce are being rocked by the climate crisis. In the years ahead, we are bound to see massive changes with reductions in the volume of production, the abolition or replacement of crops, and even higher prices for products that we have always taken for granted, being staples in our diets, but which we may have to start cutting back on. The rising heat is also setting fire to our wallets.