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Italian Olive Oil Shortage Could Cause Prices To Double

Chicago (CBS) -- Be careful if you plan on cooking up a tasty pasta dish this week, because there's an olive oil shortage halfway around the world.

Quartino Restaurant cooks up close to 10,000 meals a week, but in his kitchen, Chef John Coletta is stocking up to avoid a shortage of the key ingredient.

A severe winter in 2018 and a massive bacterial infestation are crippling Italy's olive trees, especially in Puglia, in the boot of Italy. The region produces 40 percent of the country's yield.

"Italian extra virgin olive oil -- 100 percent -- you are going to be challenged to find it," Coletta said. "Production is down by 57 percent."

Coletta secured his supply by reserving it with his growers coping with the crisis. He said it's producing an incredible burden on the olive oil producers.

Savino Muraglia's farm in Puglia produces Coletta's order. He said the shortage has many in the industry scrambling to find olives to press into oil.

"We have about 21 million of olive trees died," Muraglia said.

He said the lack of production has doubled the price of olive oil.

In Carol Stream, Orlando Imports ships in a quarter million gallons of Italian olive oil to Chicago, the kind consumers buy in grocery stores.

Owner Eddie Greco says that stands to double the price of a three-liter tin from about $25 to $50.

"It looks like we're probably going to see a shortage, probably sooner than later" Greco said.

By law, 100 percent Italian olive oil must be marked "product of Italy." But, to meet demand, Italian producers might mix it with olives from Spain or Greece. That lower priced product should be marked differently.

"You'll see 'packed in Italy' and then you will have to see the different countries where the origin of the olives come from," Greco said.

Not all countries test for the authenticity of olive oil, and consumers could be paying more for a product that isn't what it should be as Italy's olive farms try to meet demand.

"They're going to have to get the olive oil from someplace, so where's it going to come from?" Coletta said.

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