After Tough Harvest, Producers in Crete Ask for Compensation

The small quantity of olive oil that was produced in Crete remains idle since there is no demand from buyers abroad. Producers are demanding compensation.

Olive groves in Crete
Mar. 6, 2019
By Costas Vasilopoulos
Olive groves in Crete

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It was a dif­fi­cult har­vest sea­son for the vast major­ity of the olive oil pro­duc­ers in Crete.

Weather fluc­tu­a­tions and the olive tree pathogens took their toll, with many areas of the island fac­ing a sig­nif­i­cant loss in their yield of olive oil. The total har­vest came out to about 60,000 tons, com­pared to 85,000 tons made last year.

Producers that will not be able to have any income for the next years need sup­port from the state.- Myronas Hilentzakis, assis­tant direc­tor of the Vine and Olive Oil Growers Group of Crete

Apart from the reduced quan­tity and with a few excep­tions, the qual­ity of the olive oil is also infe­rior com­pared to other sea­sons. Some indus­try experts have cal­cu­lated the com­bined dam­age to be some­where between €10 and €15 mil­lion ($11.3 and $17 mil­lion) for the entire island.

Following three years of dry weather, this win­ter was very rainy with unex­pected fluc­tu­a­tions of cold and warm weather in Crete and in most parts of Greece. These unusual weather pat­terns have cre­ated con­cern, not only to olive tree grow­ers, but to the whole agri­cul­tural world of the coun­try.

See Also: Greek Olive Oil News

To add insult to injury, there is cur­rently no seri­ous demand for Cretan oil oil from abroad, with prices stay­ing below €3 ($3.40) for one kilo­gram of qual­ity extra vir­gin with an acid­ity level of 0.3 per­cent. Producers have also been reluc­tant to sell cheap should a buyer occur.

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It was a major blow to the island’s olive oil sec­tor,” Myronas Hilentzakis, assis­tant direc­tor of the Vine and Olive Oil Growers Group of Crete, said in ref­er­ence to the adverse weather con­se­quences. There are olive trees in east­ern Crete that will need three to four years to recover, let alone become pro­duc­tive again.”

Producers that will not be able to have any income for the next years need sup­port from the state,” he added. Our olive oil goes unwanted and in only three years we have lost 51 per­cent of exports worth €1 bil­lion ($1.13 bil­lion) for the whole coun­try.”

Since there was no sign for redress from the gov­ern­ment, grow­ers and pro­duc­ers gath­ered in Heraklion to plan their next moves.

They decided to ask for com­pen­sa­tion, pre­sent­ing the Minister of Agriculture with all the data that demon­strates the mag­ni­tude of the dam­age, includ­ing the vol­ume of the yield, the spread of the fruit fly and the pro­duc­tion areas that were hit more by the cli­mate change.

They also agreed to alert the European Commission in order to inter­vene in favor of their claim.

Meanwhile, sci­en­tists called for an expan­sion of olive tree farm­ing, not only in Crete, but in all the olive oil pro­duc­ing ter­ri­to­ries of Greece, which will serve two pur­poses: com­pen­sate for the loss of pro­duc­tion due to the cli­mate change and help keep up with other pro­duc­ing coun­tries that pro­gres­sively increase their out­put of olive oil.

Most of the olive oil mak­ing coun­tries extend their olive tree cul­ti­va­tions, and who­ever stays behind will face the con­se­quences,” Dimitris Gerasopoulos, pro­fes­sor of Agronomy and Forestry at the University of Thessaloniki, said.

He also warned that from now on the pro­duc­tion of olive oil will have sig­nif­i­cant vari­a­tions mainly due to the changes in weather, so a sea­son with a small yield is more likely than ever before and it would sig­nif­i­cantly harm the exports and the share of Greek olive oil in for­eign mar­kets.

We should take for granted the big ups and downs in the vol­ume of the pro­duc­tion,” he said. So, we need to sus­tain a high level of pro­duc­tion in order not to fall back from other pro­duc­ing coun­tries.”





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