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International Shortage of Olive Oil to Be Compensated by Spain

European Union olive oil producers fared poorly this year. Spain, the notable exception, is well poised to make up the difference in the export market.

Jan. 17, 2019
By Danielle Pacheco

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Accord­ing to the lat­est esti­mates released by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, Span­ish olive oil pro­duc­tion is pro­jected to reach 1.76 mil­lion tons in the 2018/19 sea­son, up from 1.39 mil­lion tons the pre­ced­ing sea­son.

Iron­i­cally, Span­ish olive oil pro­duc­ers have cli­mate change to thank for the suc­cess­ful har­vest sea­son.- El País

Spain is expected to export 1.22 mil­lion tons this sea­son, up almost 40 per­cent from the 2017/18 sea­son. This is largely in response to the sharp decrease in pro­duc­tion in other coun­tries, such as Greece and Italy.

Italy is pro­jected to pro­duce just 226,000 tons of olive oil in the 2018/19 sea­son, less than half the amount of the pre­ced­ing har­vest­ing sea­son. Greece will fall by 35 per­cent to 248,000 tons and Por­tu­gal will drop almost 20 per­cent, down to 121,300 tons.

See more: Olive Oil Pro­duc­tion

Over­all, Euro­pean Union olive oil pro­duc­tion num­bers are expected to remain fairly sta­ble, at 2.375 mil­lion tons in 2018/19 com­pared with 2.410 mil­lion tons in 2017/18.

Spain’s pro­duc­tion will make up three-quar­ters of total EU olive oil pro­duc­tion in the 2018/19 sea­son, and more than half of the world­wide pro­duc­tion.

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After a slight dip over the hol­i­day sea­son, exports are expected to pick up again in Jan­u­ary. Con­sump­tion in Spain is also increas­ing in the 2018/19 sea­son after prices dropped back down below €3.00 ($3.42) per kilo­gram for extra vir­gin olive oil, and is expected to reach 578,700 tons.

Davide Granieri, pres­i­dent of the Ital­ian olive oil con­sor­tium Unaprol, blamed this year’s dis­ap­point­ing crop on cli­mate change, fraud and the tar­iff-free influx of Tunisian olive oil into the EU mar­ket.

Italy is also still in the throes of an infes­ta­tion of Xylella fas­tidiosa, a plant pathogen that is rav­aging olive oil groves in the east­ern part of the coun­try. A few cases of Xylella fas­tidiosa were found in Spain as well last year.

The major­ity of this year’s crop so far was har­vested in Decem­ber, when Spain col­lected 679,000 tons of olive oil, the sec­ond-most pro­duc­tive month in the last decade. The province of Jaén is respon­si­ble for 40 per­cent of Spain’s olive oil pro­duc­tion, equat­ing to more than Greece and Italy com­bined.

Iron­i­cally, Span­ish olive oil pro­duc­ers have cli­mate change to thank for the suc­cess­ful har­vest sea­son.

Unsea­son­able cold snaps and heat waves lined up per­fectly to pro­duce a bumper crop of olives in many regions this year. Jaén suf­fered a worse-than-expected har­vest in Novem­ber due to poor weather, but man­aged to com­pen­sate for it in Decem­ber.

The cli­mate in Jan­u­ary will deter­mine whether Spain reaches the esti­mated olive oil pro­duc­tion fig­ures for the 2018/19 sea­son.

The most impor­tant olive oil pro­duc­ing coun­tries out­side of the EU are also see­ing a drop in fig­ures. Tunisia and Turkey are expected to fall by around 50 per­cent and only Morocco will increase its pro­duc­tion, reach­ing about 50 per­cent more than the pre­vi­ous sea­son.

Accord­ing to the lat­est fig­ures from the Inter­na­tional Olive Oil Coun­cil, world­wide olive oil pro­duc­tion for the 2018/19 sea­son is expected to reach 3.451 mil­lion tons, down slightly from 3.653 mil­lion tons in the 2017/18 har­vest­ing sea­son.





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