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Butter And Olive Oil Prices Spike

The world is about to become much less tasty

Yum. (Lew Robertson/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

Why does restaurant food taste so good? Butter, mostly. Butter makes things delicious. So does olive oil. But if you want to keep living the culinary good life, get set to pay: the prices of both butter and olive oil are soaring.

The cost for butter is up 16 percent over the same time last year, says Vox. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports that olive oil availability is plummeting, sending the price for the highest quality Italian oils soaring. The reasons behind the shifts are very different, but the consequences are the same: bland, or more expensive, food.

For butter, says Vox, global demand, driven by people in developing nations, is driving the price up. As people's incomes rise, they want to get in on the buttery goodness. That same trend also accounts for rising meat and dairy prices.

The reason for olive oil's surging price, by contrast, sits a little closer to the earth. In California, Spain  and Italy, the LA Times writes, harsh weather and an outbreak of something called “olive tree leprosy” have crippled olive crops. Italian harvests are down 35 percent, while Spanish crops have dropped by half. An industry research group told the LAT that "world output may fall 20 percent."

Bad seasons come and go; the shift in the global marketplace will likely have more staying power. But even the high butter prices should eventually be brought in to line. If everything goes as planned, butter supplies should outpace demand by around 2018, says Bloomberg

About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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