Covid Relief Program Could Also Help Italy's Olive Oil Storage Problem

Producers in Italy warn that storage facilities are filling up quickly just weeks into the harvest. Low demand from the restaurant and hospitality sector has caused the backlog.

Nov. 18, 2020
By Paolo DeAndreis

Italian extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duc­ers have warned that their stor­age facil­i­ties have quickly filled up in the first weeks of the har­vest­ing season.

Compared to the same period in 2019, the amount of extra vir­gin olive oil in stor­age has risen by 85.9 per­cent to a record 42.9 tons.

Tanks are fill­ing up with the olive oil from the cur­rent cam­paign while it is get­ting harder and harder to place the prod­uct on the mar­ket in light of the overt cri­sis in the Horeca sec­tor.- Fabrizio Pini, pres­i­dent, Italia Olivicola

The COVID-19 cri­sis that has hit restau­rants, bars, hotels since March has led to a rel­e­vant increase in the extra vir­gin olive oil stor­age,” the major olive oil pro­duc­ers asso­ci­a­tion, Italia Olivicola, wrote. Quick action by the gov­ern­ment is needed, to unlock the mar­ket and help the producers.”

The asso­ci­a­tion urged for an already-approved €20 mil­lion ten­der by the Agency for Payments in Agriculture (AGEA) to pro­ceed to publication. 

“[The ten­der] will buy 100-per­cent Italian extra vir­gin olive oil, which will then be dis­trib­uted to the fam­i­lies in need,” the group wrote.

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See Also: Italian PDO and PGI Extra Virgin Olive Oils Are Increasing in Value

The ten­der is part of a €300-mil­lion ($354-mil­lion) food aid emer­gency fund, which has been set up by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture to dis­trib­ute healthy and sta­ple foods to fam­i­lies in need dur­ing the pan­demic. As part of the plan, olive oil pro­duc­ers will be paid €3.20 ($3.77) per liter, which many con­sider too low.

According to data released by the lat­est Frantoio Italia report, which was pub­lished by the Ministry of Agriculture, 67.5 per­cent of the extra vir­gin olive oil in need of stor­age is located in the Puglia, Tuscany, Calabria and Umbria.

Currently, in Puglia, olive oil stocks sit at 77,398 tons, includ­ing 54,655 tons of extra vir­gin olive oil (some of which was left­over from last year). In Tuscany, there are 44,000 tons of olive oil stocks, of which 36,000 tons is extra virgin.

Across the whole of Italy, extra vir­gin olive oils with a Protected Designation of Origin account for four per­cent of total olive oil stor­age, with Terra di Bari PDO occu­py­ing nearly half of the avail­able space.

Tanks are fill­ing up with the olive oil from the cur­rent cam­paign while it is get­ting harder and harder to place the prod­uct on the mar­ket in light of the overt cri­sis in the Horeca sec­tor,” Fabrizio Pini, the pres­i­dent of Italia Olivicola, said in ref­er­ence to the coun­try’s hos­pi­tal­ity and restau­rant sec­tor. Government inter­ven­tions are absolutely needed to help those pro­duc­ers whose trade chan­nels have been shut down.”

He added that the AGEA ten­der would be a deci­sive step that would allow us to empty the tanks filled with last year’s olive oil through­out Italy” and a breath of fresh air for the sector.”

Giuseppe L’Abbate, the under­sec­re­tary of state for agri­cul­tural poli­cies, said that the money for the AGEA ten­der would be avail­able soon and empha­sized their impor­tance in help­ing all types of Italian producers.

Those funds are ded­i­cated only to buy­ing Italian prod­ucts, so that we can help Italian fam­i­lies in need while at the same time giv­ing a hand to Made in Italy agri­cul­ture and the agribusi­ness,” L’Abbate said.

It is just com­mon sense since, among the effects of the cur­rent pan­demic, there is the risk of an increase of the pop­u­la­tion liv­ing below the thresh­old of poverty,” he added. After this decree, AGEA will pub­lish its tenders.”

In a last-minute press release posted on the Ministry of Agriculture web­site, Minister Teresa Bellanova also announced that the gov­ern­ment has allo­cated another €340 mil­lion ($402 mil­lion) for the agri­cul­tural sec­tor to face the cur­rent crisis.





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