In Italy, Industry Experts Forecast Lower Yield, Higher Quality

Italian olive oil production for the 2022/23 crop year is expected to fall by 37 percent, to 208,000 tons. However, quality is set to increase.
Apulia, Italy
By Ylenia Granitto
Dec. 9, 2022 16:51 UTC

According to esti­mates by the Institute of Services for the Agricultural and Food Market (Ismea), Italian olive oil pro­duc­tion for the 2022/23 crop year is expected to drop to 208,000 tons. Ismea based their report on data gath­ered by the pro­duc­ers’ asso­ci­a­tions Italia Olivicola and Unaprol at the begin­ning of November.

The esti­mates indi­cated a 37-per­cent reduc­tion in pro­duc­tion com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year, which cor­re­sponds to more than 120,000 tons of olive oil lost due to a strong drought com­bined with an off-year’ (the low pro­duc­tion year in an olive tree’s alter­nate bear­ing cycle).

This occurs in a sit­u­a­tion of gen­eral rise in the prices of pro­duc­tion fac­tors that caused great tur­moil in the whole man­u­fac­tur­ing world,” Ismea mar­ket ana­lyst, Tiziana Sarnari, told Olive Oil Times. Thus, pro­duc­tion prices are also grow­ing, pushed not only by the increase in costs and the low national yields, but also by the inter­na­tional sit­u­a­tion that sees a decline in the Spanish olive oil out­put.”

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According to Ismea, Spain’s pro­duc­tion could see a drop of 30 to 50 per­cent, which will affect the avail­abil­ity of olive oil world­wide. Among the lead­ing pro­duc­ing coun­tries, only Greece may exceed last year’s pro­duc­tion lev­els, reach­ing over 300,000 tons, while Tunisia, in its off-year’, could face a 25-per­cent decrease.

The har­vest is about to end in some areas of the coun­try, then it is not yet pos­si­ble to give final fig­ures, since the olive oil yields will also weigh in,” Sarnari spec­i­fied. In gen­eral, the oper­a­tions were con­ducted with a tighter timetable than usual, in order to pre­vent fur­ther dam­age caused by the plants dis­eases that began to appear con­sis­tently over the last years in a con­text of cli­mate change and related grow­ing humid­ity. On the other hand, the long drought pre­vented the out­break of pests like the olive fruit fly, and this allowed many areas of the coun­try to obtain higher qual­ity lev­els.”

Last year, dur­ing the first phe­no­log­i­cal phase, Italian olive trees suf­fered from the lack of rain and a return of cold in spring, which affected flow­er­ing and fruit set­ting, and also caused fruit drop. Then, the veg­e­ta­tive devel­op­ment of the olive groves was put to a severe test by a pro­longed drought and high sum­mer tem­per­a­tures, lead­ing to exten­sive use of emer­gency irri­ga­tion. Finally, rains at the end of August brought relief to the plants, but har­vest­ing oper­a­tions were sped up to pre­vent attacks by pathogens.

When it comes to har­vest in recent years, pro­duc­tion fore­casts have a rule with many excep­tions due to very dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions aris­ing even in adja­cent areas,” Sarnari under­lined. In this case, if we want to make an extreme syn­the­sis, the area with the most con­sis­tent decline in pro­duc­tion can be iden­ti­fied in the South, also with regard to its weight in the national out­put.”

For Puglia, alone rep­re­sent­ing half of Italian national pro­duc­tion, Ismea esti­mated out­put to be more than halved, with a 52 per­cent drop. A sig­nif­i­cant loss will also be seen in Sicily and Calabria, whose pro­duc­tion is expected to fall 25 and 42 per­cent respec­tively. On the other hand, pro­duc­tion should increase in Central Italy with ris­ing fig­ures in Lazio (17 per­cent), Tuscany and Umbria (27 per­cent). After last year’s dra­matic decline, the north­ern regions show signs of recov­ery – a 27 per­cent growth is esti­mated in Liguria – but not as much as was expected before the great sum­mer drought.


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