Olive Oil Crisis Has European Countries Worried

June 19, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. surplus (n.) 
[sur-pluhs, -pluhs] – an excess amount of something
Example: There is a surplus of eggs in our house so I had to give the extras to our neighbors.

2. staple (n.) [stey-puhl] – an important food that is regularly eaten
Example: Rice is considered to be an Asian diet staple, because it is eaten every day in many Asian countries.

3. stockpile (v.) [stok-pahyl] – to gather and save a large supply of something for future use
Example: The family stockpiles canned goods in their house in case of emergencies.

4. commodity (n.) [kuh-mod-i-tee] – in economics, something that can be bought and sold
Example: As valuable commodities, crude oil and coffee are often sold in high prices.

5. offset (v.) [awf-set] – to use something to cancel or reduce the effect of something else
Example: The supermarket increased the prices of their products to offset rising business costs.

Read the text below.

The price of olive oil has dropped to its lowest in the last ten years as the demand for the product decreased in Spain, Italy and Greece because of economic crises in these countries.

The drop in the demand for olive oil has resulted to surplus of harvested olives in Spain, Italy and Greece.  People from rural areas now worry about their incomes.

The three southern European countries are the biggest suppliers of this Mediterranean diet staple, producing 70 percent of the world’s olive oil. Olive oil production provides employment and income to those who live in rural areas most especially in Andalucia, Spain where 33 percent of people have no jobs.

The European Union paid companies to stockpile olive oil in order to reduce the surplus and help maintain the employment in rural areas.  Policy makers believe this action has set a minimum price for the commodity.

However, olive oil still has to compete with cheaper kinds of vegetable oil. Eroski, which is a popular supermarket chain in Spain, sells sunflower oil at 1.25 euros per liter, compared to average-quality olive oil at 1.99 euros and premium extra-virgin olive oil at 3.25 euros.

According to the International Olive Oil Council, Spain’s demand for olive oil this year will be the same amount in 2002 while Greece and Italy’s demand will be at their 1995 levels. The fall in these countries’ demand for olive oil has been only partly offset by increased demand in other countries.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         What is the staple food in your country?
·         How will your country survive if this staple food becomes unavailable?

Discussion B

·         How important are farmers in your country’s economy?
What do you think of the farmers’ situation in Spain? What troubles do farmers in your country face? Please explain further.


June 19, 2012