Europe

Lower Volumes Forecast As Harvest in Greece Hits Its Stride

A reduction in quality and quantity is expected In the majority of olive oil making territories compared to last year

Nov. 27, 2018
By Costas Vasilopoulos

Recent News

With the har­vest­ing season under­way in Greece, Greek olive oil pro­duc­tion is expected to be sig­nif­i­cantly lower than the pre­vi­ous season. Some early esti­ma­tions have cal­cu­lated it at around 240,000 tons, down by more than 30 per­cent com­pared to the 350,000 tons of olive oil came out of the mills last year.

The fruit fly inva­sion and other pathogens like the gloeospo­rium that attacked the olives this year, com­bined with the fact that this is an ‘off’ season for many areas due to the pro­duc­tion cycle of olive trees, will ulti­mately lead to less olive oil pro­duced in the coun­try.

In Crete, only the areas of Kolymvavi and Apokoronas near Chania are set for a good pro­duc­tion, with other areas like the usu­ally boun­ti­ful ter­ri­to­ries of Heraklion and Lasithi suf­fer­ing a big loss.

“We antic­i­pate a strong pro­duc­tion, bigger than last year,” Nektarios Paraschakis of the Agricultural Association of Chania to Olive Oil Times. “The rest of Crete has really a prob­lem­atic season with low quan­ti­ties and in advance, many pro­duc­ers have issues with the qual­ity of their oil due to the fruit fly and other dis­eases, but our area is unaf­fected. We get acidi­ties of 0.3 to 0.4 for our extra virgin, mean­ing that it will be of high qual­ity.”

Last season’s olive oil yield of the region of Chania came in at about 22,000 tons.

Advertisement

Other areas are also expected to have a reduced pro­duc­tion, like Lakonia where last year’s 25,000 tons are expected to be dimin­ished by 50 to 60 per­cent this season, and the Ilia region in west Peloponnese where the har­vest will be only 13,000 to 15,000 tons of more than 30,000 tons usu­ally made there.

The island of Lesvos gave more than 12,000 tons of qual­ity olive oil last year, but now things are worse than ever with most of the pro­duc­tion already lost due to the weather ups and downs and the fruit fly cat­a­stro­phe.

In other olive oil-making ter­ri­to­ries like Chalkidiki, Aetolia-Acarnania, and Thasos island, big reduc­tions in quan­ti­ties are also expected.

Advertisement

Amid the unpromis­ing crop, an encour­ag­ing sign for pro­duc­ers in var­i­ous areas of the coun­try is that the acid­ity levels have started to improve, as the first loads of fruit infected by flies have been processed and the newly har­vested olive fruits are in better shape.

In the areas of Messinia and Lakonia, some pro­duc­ers are delighted to see acidi­ties of 0.4 to 0.5 com­pared to 0.7 or 0.8 before, mean­ing that they are get­ting better extra virgin oil that will sell for a higher price.

Advertisement

And due to the scarcity of extra virgin olive oil this season, a never-seen-before prac­tice of Greek pro­duc­ers is to sell for dif­fer­ent prices accord­ing to the level of acid­ity of their extra vir­gins, get­ting higher prices for lower acid­ity levels.

Trying to tackle the fruit fly prob­lem, and with pro­duc­ers from all over the coun­try protest­ing about the late and insuf­fi­cient mea­sures applied each year, the Ministry of Agriculture promised that it will opt for better man­age­ment and coor­di­na­tion of local author­i­ties and will pro­vide the nec­es­sary fund­ing sooner than in pre­vi­ous years.

Some experts of the olive oil indus­try have cal­cu­lated the total loss for grow­ers and pro­duc­ers some­where between €300 to €500 mil­lion ($340 to $567 mil­lion) for this season, not includ­ing the loss of others in the pro­duc­tion chain like bot­tlers and exporters.

They also noted that due to the reduced vol­umes of olive oil coming from Italy and Greece, Spain is expected to make almost half of the world’s olive oil this season and they will set the prices for extra virgin and virgin olive oil for the global indus­try.