Global olive oil pro­duc­tion is esti­mated to decrease by 5.5 per­cent in the 2018/​19 har­vest sea­son, accord­ing to fig­ures pro­vided to Olive Oil Times by the International Olive Council (IOC).

The data indi­cate that IOC mem­ber nations and selected non-IOC mem­bers will pro­duce 3.130 mil­lion tons this crop year, com­pared with 3.314 mil­lion tons last year. However, this crop year’s olive oil yield was still higher than either the 2016/​17 yield and the 2014/​15 yield, both of which were also off-years for many global pro­duc­ers.

Prior esti­mates had pre­dicted a slightly larger decrease, but these fig­ures have since been revised up by the IOC.

“We have updated our esti­mates for the 2018/​2019 har­vest year,” Michele Bungaro, the head of the IOC’s Observatory and Informational Systems Department, told Olive Oil Times. “Now we fore­see a reduc­tion of decrease up to 5.5 per­cent instead of eight per­cent, [as was pre­vi­ously indi­cated].”

The largest decreases took place in Tunisia and Argentina, with this year’s har­vest drop­ping 57 and 54 per­cent, respec­tively. Both coun­tries enjoyed strong har­vests in the 2017/​18 crop year and were expect­ing a drop this year due to the alter­nate bear­ing nature of olive trees.

Elsewhere, pro­duc­tion fell by 49 per­cent in Palestine; 38 per­cent in Italy; 35 per­cent in Greece and 30 per­cent in Turkey.

According to Coldiretti, an Italian farm­ers’ asso­ci­a­tion, bad weather dam­aged about 25 mil­lion olive trees in the coun­try and largely caused a sharp decrease. In spite of this, Italy remains the sec­ond largest global olive oil pro­ducer after Spain.

In Turkey, the decrease was also attrib­uted to the alter­nate bear­ing nature of the trees. However, Turkish olive oil pro­duc­tion con­tin­ues to trend upwards with this crop year’s har­vest increas­ing by three per­cent com­pared with the 2016/​17 cam­paign and 14 per­cent com­pared with the 2014/​15 cam­paign.

Other coun­tries to reg­is­ter pro­duc­tion decreases were Egypt (-28 per­cent), Portugal (-15 per­cent), Algeria (-7 per­cent), Israel (-6 per­cent) and Jordan (-2 per­cent).

The IOC fig­ures also indi­cate that some coun­tries expe­ri­enced notable pro­duc­tion increases. Libya enjoyed the largest of these increases, with pro­duc­tion ris­ing by 41 per­cent. Morocco also expe­ri­enced an increase, but much more mod­est, of about four per­cent.

Similarly, the fig­ure for Morocco was also revised way down after the ini­tial esti­mate was given.

Both North African coun­tries have been steadily invest­ing in olive oil pro­duc­tion as new mar­kets in East Asia have opened up and tra­di­tional Mediterranean pro­duc­ers have suf­fered set­backs from weather and dis­ease.

After sev­eral tough years for olive oil pro­duc­ers in Spain caused mainly by drought and dis­ease, olive oil esti­mates for the 2018/​19 crop year reached 1,598,900 tons, an increase of 27 per­cent com­pared with the pre­vi­ous cam­paign and the high­est level of pro­duc­tion since 2013/​14.

Luis Planas, Spain’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, called these fig­ures “bet­ter” in a press con­fer­ence, but acknowl­edged that they were not a record and the sec­tor still has a lot of work ahead of it.



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