Money Wellness
Image of olive oil being poured from a bottle into a bowl with olives and branches around. Olive oil soars in price. What are the cheaper alternatives and how can olive oil be used other than cooking
calendar icon22 Apr 2024

Olive oil prices increase by 50% in just five months

Olive oil prices increase by 50% in just five months

Olive Oil has shot up in price, with bottles now retailing at more than £10. Find out why and what cheaper alternatives are available

The bonkers weather engulfing Europe in recent years has left many of the Mediterraean’s olive groves dried out.

The trees have suffered from long bouts of no rainfall, combined with scorching temperatures and freak periods of hailstorms and flooding.

According to a BBC report, olive groves in Italy, Greece, and Spain have been affected the most.

The result is that the crop over the past 12 months is considerably smaller than in previous years, leading to a sharp increase in prices.

According to one report the price of Spanish olive oil has risen by 115% between September 2022 and September 2023.

History of olive oil

The production of olive oil is thought to have started before 4000 BC.

It has long been a common ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine, being used in Greek and Roman cooking. It was also used in religious rituals, medicines, and as fuel in oil lamps, soap making, and skincare.

Elizabeth David, a British cookery writer, is believed to have introduced olive oil to the UK in the 1950s. In her book, A Book of Mediterranean Food, she told readers that they could pick up olive oil at their local chemist where it was stocked for medicinal purposes.

It took until the early 1990s for olive oil to become popular in the UK, with sales increasing because of its popularity among several celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, and Gordon Ramsey.

According to The Food and Drink Innovation Network, the UK consumes around 28 million litres of olive oil a year, with half of UK households now having a bottle in their cupboard.

Are there cheaper alternatives to olive oil?

There are lots of different oils and fats you can substitute olive oil for, which can be either cheaper or healthier.

For all-purpose cooking, you could try grapeseed oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil, or gee.

For stir-fries, peanut oil, or palm oil is recommended.

In baking you could try butter, coconut oil, or mashed bananas instead.

And to add flavour to salad dressings give flaxseed oil, walnut oil, or almond oil a try.

Where are the cheapest places to buy olive oil?

You can pick up five and ten-litre cans of olive oil for less in your local Turkish or middle-eastern shop.

Alternatively, Lidl is selling olive oil from £5.99 for 500ml, while Aldi’s range starts at £6.79 for 750ml. Asda has its own brand of olive oil available at £5.75, with Tesco’s cheapest 500ml bottle the same price.

Quirky ways olive oil can be used other than cooking

Olive oil can be used in many different ways other than cooking. Here’s some we’ve found:

  • Use to remove eye makeup
  • Use as a hair serum to stop split ends or as a detangler or hair mask  
  • Use as a moisturiser on dry skin
  • Use to remove ear wax
  • Use as a replacement for shaving foam
  • Use to clean and bring stainless steel back to life
  • Mix ¼ of a tablespoon into your cat’s food to prevent hairballs from forming
  • Use instead of aftersun to soothe and calm sunburn
  • Use to clean makeup brushes
  • Use to remove sticky residue or lift chewing gum
  • Use to polish wooden furniture
  • Use to remove a stuck ring or a zip that won’t budge
Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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