Albanian Producers Struggle with Low Prices

While Albanian farmers enjoyed a bountiful harvest, low prices on the internal market and challenging logistics are causing concern.
Olive fields on the Albanian coast
By Paolo DeAndreis
Jan. 24, 2023 13:38 UTC

The cur­rent olive har­vest in Albania has reached record num­bers. Still, local pro­duc­ers must cope with uncer­tain export oppor­tu­ni­ties and low prod­uct prices.

The Ministry of Agriculture esti­mates the cur­rent cam­paign could end well above expec­ta­tions, with around 25,000 tons of olive oil. Experts say the pro­duc­tion growth results from good cli­mate con­di­tions and long-stand­ing invest­ments to expand pro­duc­tion.

According to International Olive Council (IOC) data, Albania pro­duced 11,000 tons in the 2021/22 crop year. If con­firmed, the lat­est harvest’s results would be much higher than any pre­vi­ous cam­paign’s.

See Also:Olive Oil Business News

Still, local pro­duc­ers warned that the record pro­duc­tion might desta­bi­lize the mar­ket. Exports are neg­li­gi­ble, and local demand will not be suf­fi­cient to absorb pro­duc­tion. Storage facil­i­ties are also lim­ited.

The IOC esti­mates that the coun­try con­sumes approx­i­mately 13,000 tons of olive oil annu­ally.

According to the Albanian Daily News, the vast major­ity of the olive oil pro­duced in the coun­try comes from small pro­duc­ers. Ninety-five per­cent of all olive oil in Albania is sold infor­mally, with only 5 per­cent find­ing the way to a super­mar­ket shelf.

Local observers see a con­nec­tion between the low prices avail­able to con­sumers and the farm­ers’ direct sales of olive oil. Such prices, they say, under­mine the oppor­tu­nity for more struc­tured oper­a­tions, as taxes and pro­duc­tion costs, such as energy and pack­ag­ing, weigh heav­ily on bot­tlers.

Once ana­lyzed, bot­tled and dis­trib­uted through food retail­ers, com­mer­cially sold olive oil costs much more than the aver­age con­sumer pays on the infor­mal mar­ket.

This cre­ates a sit­u­a­tion where suc­cess is highly depen­dent on sta­ble sup­plies over time, cer­ti­fied olive oil grades and cred­i­ble track­ing of the prod­uct ori­gin.

About 9 mil­lion olive trees in Albania are believed to extend over 50,000 hectares. According to the Food4Health obser­va­tory of the nearby Puglia in Italy, 80 per­cent of grow­ers in Albania take care of an aver­age of 200 to 250 olive trees in an area rarely exceed­ing 2 hectares.

The num­ber of pro­duc­tive trees has dou­bled in the last 10 years, reach­ing 8.2 mil­lion. Still, the aver­age olive yield per tree remains rel­a­tively low, between 12 and 15 kilo­grams per tree.

The mar­ket con­di­tions and lack of a pub­lic reg­istry for track­ing national olive oil pro­duc­tion are being addressed by the gov­ern­ment.

While speak­ing at the pub­lic state news agency Albanian Telegraphic, offi­cials from the Ministry of Agriculture con­firmed that a new olive reg­istry is in the works. Registration will start in Berat province, which grows more than 40 per­cent of the country’s olives.

State offi­cials also con­firmed new tax cuts for olive grow­ers. It is expected that olive orchards and olive pro­duc­tion will soon fall within the European Union-spon­sored sup­port pro­gram, Indigenous Peoples Alliance for Rights and Development.


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