Olive oil price leads to theft: “We are very worried, it can happen to any oil factory”

During the summer months, 82,000 liters of olive oil were stolen from oil factories and warehouses. Over 50,000 liters in just one. Some of the thefts, which coincide with a sharp rise in olive oil prices and the prospect that they will not decrease in the coming months, are causing unrest among producers. On the market, this kilo of liquid gold can be worth more than half a million euros.

“We are very sorry, this could happen again in other oil refineries because oil prices are very high. It could happen to anyone,” says Macarena Sánchez, manager of the Cordoba Industrial Oil Refineries Business Association (ACORA). In that scenario, he admits, they would consider increasing security measures.

In these weeks, the olive sector is in transition, with the closure of the last campaign – the worst in history in terms of oil production volume – and the next first steps, known as greening. From October, oil refineries will start filling up without any prospect of a drop in the price at the points of sale. We will have to wait at least a few months for that.

“Now the oil plants are not empty either, they have connecting oil,” explains Macarena Sánchez. “Of course, we have security systems, constant surveillance in the facilities and, when you operate the mill, there is night work,” adds the director of the Córdoba Oil Refineries Association.

The most recent robbery this summer took place a few weeks ago at an oil refinery in Carcabuí, Córdoba municipality. In total, 56,000 liters of oil that had not yet been bottled. His manager, Martin Parras, believes it was “something very thought out and prepared”, as he said in statements to Europa Press. “They knew what they wanted, they picked that spot and they went in great, they knew where the alarms were, where everything was, the oils and they knew how to load the tanks.

This was not the only case. In the Malaga city of Teba, the Civil Guard is investigating another theft involving almost 7,000 liters of already packaged extra virgin oil. In June, 19,000 liters of “liquid gold” were stolen from a factory in Luque (Cordoba). In this regard, the alleged criminal, a former employee of the institution, was arrested.

In addition to theft and how one can steal a liter of olive oil without raising suspicion, the sector emphasizes what will happen to the stolen product now, because it does not have quality guarantees for those who consume it and because it does not have a type. traceability.

There they focus on the actions of the Civil Guard so that this stolen product does not end up on sale. “The tools are there,” the Córdoba oil refinery manager points out. We are talking about the quantities of products to be transported by tanker. And there is Remoa, which depends on the Ministry of Agriculture and the Civil Guard can consult.

Remoa is a computerized system where all movements of olive oil and olive pomace must be recorded. That is, when the oil changes hands, it must be registered, which allows the product to be identified at any link in the food chain and during transport, if intercepted, to know who owns it. Remoa is under the Food tion and Control Agency, AICA, which is part of the Ministry of Agriculture. This is the same agency that sanctions operators when they violate the Food Chain Law, which prohibits selling at a loss or sealing contracts between operators that are not signed in writing.

The Civil Guard is investigating through Seprona, which did not respond to elDiario.es’ questions about these thieves. Nor are they entirely new. Olive oil has been stolen before it reaches store shelves in other cases. In 2017, when the price slightly exceeded 3 euros, thefts also increased.

Other sources in the sector ask for perspective, as they believe that the stolen volume is not so high in the context when, predictably, Spain will exceed the slightly more than 600,000 tons of oil produced during the last campaign. “We are concerned, but we should not be alarmed,” said business sources who preferred anonymity.

“We don’t want toilet paper in a pandemic or sunflower oil, when the war started in Ukraine, to happen: the consumer should start collecting. There will be no shortage,” they say. “Enough astringent oil, we have to wait until November to see the new campaign and it can be imported. We have always mattered. Availability will always be sufficient. “

However, product availability is one thing and price is another. At the moment it has not reached the ceiling. This fundamental vegetable fat in the Mediterranean diet has increased in price by more than 110% in three years and by more than 50% in one year. And when it will start to fall is unknown. At a press conference after the Council of Ministers on Tuesday, Acting Head of Agriculture Luis Planas admitted that we won’t have information on what the harvest will be until mid-October. The latest rains help, and the forecast emphasized that it will be somewhat better than in 2022-2023. As for when prices will fall, Planas did not send any signals that lead to optimism, except that the amounts are based on the law of supply and demand.

Meanwhile, the fear of theft reaches grocery stores as well. When the consumer goes to the supermarket, he already sees the alarm protected oil bottles. something unusual. The distribution sector does not provide data on whether theft has increased.

In other countries, such as the United Kingdom, there are retail chains such as giant Tesco that have acknowledged an increase in theft, which they attribute to escalating inflation. Just this week, the Association of Manufacturers and Distributors (Aecoc) released data on shoplifting, but without breaking it down by category. In 2022, theft in institutions increased by 30%. In total, they numbered more than 640,000. In the first quarter of this year, it is said to have increased by 12%. Most are small thefts, less than 90 euros, but they estimate that the sector’s losses reach 800 million annually.

Source: El Diario

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