Europe

Latest Forecast Still Gloomy for Spanish Olive Oil Harvest

Oct. 23, 2012
By Julie Butler

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Jaén President Francisco Reyes (second from left) and Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment, Luis Planas (center) at the pre­sen­ta­tion of the first olive pro­duc­tion of the season.

New and more thor­ough esti­mates have pegged Andalusia’s olive oil pro­duc­tion at less than 514,000 tons this season — about half the aver­age of the last five har­vests — and Spain’s total pro­duc­tion at just over 625,000 tons.

According to the fore­cast from the Andalusian regional gov­ern­ment, the worst-hit of its provinces will be world olive oil cap­i­tal Jaén, which can expect just 170,000 tons, a nearly 70 per­cent plunge on last year.

Globally, olive oil output is tipped to total 2.75 mil­lion tons, which would be down a fifth on the last season.

No-one seems to be dis­put­ing the fig­ures but there is dis­agree­ment about the con­se­quences.

Andalusia’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment, Luis Planas — who released the esti­mates yes­ter­day — said that com­bined with carry-over olive oil stocks which stood at about 700,000 tons at the end of September, the coming har­vest would be enough to “supply mar­kets and meet demand.”

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But agri­cul­tural unions COAG and UPA fear that won’t be the case. Agustín Rodríguez, UPA gen­eral sec­re­tary for Andalusia, said that with demand at about 1.4 mil­lion tons, a short­fall of about 100,000 tons is likely.

In a market cur­rently marked by very low levels of whole­sale sales and con­tin­u­ing high prices, he urged pro­duc­ers to be patient and not cave in on price. Poolred’s ex-mill weighted aver­age price for olive oil is cur­rently €2432/t.

Official pre­dic­tion based on local feed­back

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The fore­casts were the first in-depth offi­cial eval­u­a­tion of Spain’s likely olive oil and table olive output in 2012/2013 and were based on infor­ma­tion from sources includ­ing the Plant Health Alert and Information Network (RAIF), phone calls to mills, land and pro­duc­tion data from regional panels, and sta­tis­tics from regional author­i­ties.

The fore­cast says that the start of the season was char­ac­ter­ized by plan­ta­tions weak­ened after three sea­sons of record pro­duc­tion, and unfa­vor­able weather includ­ing low rain­fall in winter and and severe frosts in February.

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The lack of crop vital­ity and veg­e­ta­tive devel­op­ment and the drought and high tem­per­a­tures in turn caused a sig­nif­i­cant reduc­tion in flow­er­ing, poor fruit set, and an aver­age of olives per shoot much lower than in other sea­sons.

“There aren’t many olives on the trees, but the har­vest could be improved by rain in the coming months” it says.