A recent review from the French Interprofessional Association for Olive Oil (Afidol) indicated a sharp drop in French olive oil production for the 2014 – 2015 season with only 2,000 tons of olive oil produced this year.
Afidol estimated the total loss in France this to be 10 to 25 percent, the worst year since 1956 when severe frost damaged olive trees in the country. Some farms have increased their prices and most mills are controlling their stock.
Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, one of the hardest hit of the southern olive oil production regions, showed a severe loss of 69 percent with a production of 1,031 tons in the 2014 – 15 season, compared with 3,346 tons in 2013 – 14.
See more: Complete Coverage of the 2014 Olive Harvest
The French Ministry of Agriculture announced new measures to help producers in matters of payment, taxes and loans. Afidol will also receive government assistance for pest control measures.
Alexandra Paris at Afidol said: “Afidol has carried out extensive negotiations with the Ministry of Agriculture to find solutions to help producers and mills survive this difficult year. We have also developed our communication with olive producers providing more up-to-date news to better inform and guide them about caring for their olive trees throughout the year.”
Some mills and domains have adapted to the shortage by reducing the quantity of oil available to their customers.
Paris added, “To keep their customer happy, most mills have reduced the quantities being sold, no more than 1 or 2‑liter containers. The goal is to have the oil to offer as long as possible and maybe until the next campaign. But, it will be difficult.”
The National Institute for Agricultural and Sea Products known as France Agrimer, said the disastrous results were mostly due to the ravages of the olive fly disease; the mild winter, cool summer and mild autumn allowed the pests to flourish.
It’s too early to predict but, like other olive growers in Italy and Spain, the French are hoping the situation will improve for 2015- 2016. They are ready to combat the fly attack, but France is experiencing a heat wave at present which could cause the tiny olives to dry and affect harvesting in October.
Alexandra Paris from Afidol added: “For the next campaign, it’s too early to say what’s going to happen. The flowering seems good but harvesting is a long way away and a good crop is a combination of different factors including climate. We must be patient.”
With the right weather conditions, olive oil production in France usually generates a little more than 5,000 tons.