July 16, 2024

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Shoplifting of olive oil has supermarkets locking up their supplies

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Retail theft has become rampant across Europe in recent times—and thieves in Spain have been targeting liquid gold.

The crisis has forced supermarkets to put their olive oil supplies under lock and key just to prevent it from being stolen. 

“We are seeing a major surge in shoplifting,” Ruben Navarro, CEO of Spanish supermarket chain Tu Super, which has over two dozen stores in Spain, told Reuters. “Olive oil has become an ideal product for them to steal.”

The group has been locking up large five-liter olive oil cans in its supermarket since September, and has found that the measure, although extreme, has helped curb theft. 

“It is a crazy, extreme measure, but it has worked,” Navarro said. 

Other retailers in Spain, including Carrefour and Auchan, have also implemented measures to tackle shoplifting such as using security tags on olive oil bottles that can only be unlocked by staffers.

Tu Super didn’t immediately return Fortune’s request for comment. 

Liquid gold heist on the rise

Olive oil theft isn’t a new phenomenon in Spain. But in recent times, the country, which is the world’s largest olive oil producer and exporter, has faced extreme weather conditions that have led to a shortage in olives. That, in turn, has caused prices to spike exponentially. In the last two years, olive oil prices have jumped 150% in Spain, Reuters reported, turning the staple ingredient of Mediterranean cuisine into a precious commodity. 

The situation intensified as other European olive oil majors, including Greece and Italy, also saw adverse weather conditions impact oil olive output. 

“I think the biggest thing to watch out for is the quality of the olive oil,” commodity market intelligence firm Mintec’s analyst Kyle Holland told Fortune. He added that high temperatures and drought conditions could have an impact on the type of olive oil produced.

“The impact that we saw when oil prices were really high was…

Prarthana Prakash

2023-11-20 07:23:40

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