`Italian Agriculture Fell in 2020, Olive Oil Sector Hit Hardest, Report Finds - Olive Oil Times

Italian Agriculture Fell in 2020, Olive Oil Sector Hit Hardest, Report Finds

Jun. 9, 2021
Paolo DeAndreis

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The pro­duc­tion value of the Italian agri­cul­ture sec­tor fell to €59.6 bil­lion in 2020, a 3.2 per­cent decrease com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year, new data from Italy’s National Institute for Statistics (Istat) show.

Employment in the sec­tor also declined by 2.3 per­cent, while the added value prod­ucts mar­ket dropped by six per­cent. Istat pub­lished these lat­est find­ings in its annual report on agri­cul­ture in Italy.

However, not all farm­ing sec­tors suf­fered pro­duc­tiv­ity losses last year. The pro­duc­tion value of fruits, cere­als and milk grew mildly, while olive oil pro­duc­tion fell by 14.5 per­cent, more than any other sec­tor.

The impacts of the Covid-19 pan­demic have also been felt on agri­cul­tural-related issues, with sup­port ser­vices from farm­ing falling by 4.1 per­cent and flori­cul­ture decreas­ing by 8.4 per­cent.

See Also:Italian Producers Achieve Record Success at World Competition

Despite these fig­ures, Italy remains the third largest European coun­try in terms of the value of agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion and the lead­ing pro­ducer of added value agri­cul­tural prod­ucts.

Given the extra­or­di­nary events of 2020, these data do not sur­prise observers and experts.


Almost one com­pany out of five, 18 per­cent, suf­fered the demand reduc­tion due to the col­lapse of tourism and the expenses cut by bars, restau­rants and pizze­rias forced to close for months,” Ettore Prandini, pres­i­dent of the promi­nent farm­ers asso­ci­a­tion Coldiretti, told Olive Oil Times.

A sim­i­lar impact has been felt by farm­houses, the rev­enue of which also fell by 60.8 per­cent dur­ing the pan­demic.

The Istat report shows that 2020 was a chal­leng­ing year for the Italian olive oil sec­tor, with a reduc­tion in vol­umes and value, which fell by 22.4 per­cent.

The drop hit the south­ern regions the most, includ­ing Puglia (-31.7 per­cent), Campania (-22.6 per­cent) and Calabria (-21.6 per­cent). Given the high vol­umes tra­di­tion­ally pro­duced in these regions, specif­i­cally in Puglia, the grow­ing vol­umes expe­ri­enced far­ther north, includ­ing in Tuscany (+28.6 per­cent), Umbria (+14.7 per­cent) and Veneto (+19 per­cent), did not coun­ter­bal­ance the sig­nif­i­cant losses far­ther south.

The wine sec­tor did not fare much bet­ter, accord­ing to the report, with a nation­wide drop in terms of pro­duc­tion. Some of the most rel­e­vant wine-pro­duc­ing regions, includ­ing Tuscany, Umbria, Liguria, Sicily and Friuli Venezia-Giulia, expe­ri­enced decreases between eight and 12 per­cent.

The col­lapse of demand by the Horeca (hos­pi­tal­ity) sec­tor has also brought down the wine mar­ket prices, mainly in the south­ern regions. As a whole, wine pro­duc­tion in Italy in 2020 has fallen by 3.4 per­cent.

Still, accord­ing to Coldiretti, new oppor­tu­ni­ties for the whole sec­tor are present within the Recovery Plan that Italy will push ahead in the com­ing years within the E.U. recov­ery frame­work.

The plan includes one mil­lion jobs that Prandini believes could be cre­ated by focus­ing on an eco­log­i­cal tran­si­tion as the cen­ter of the devel­op­ment of the agribusi­nesses, the extra vir­gin olive oil sec­tor and the bio­fu­els sec­tor.

With more than four out of 10 Italians ask­ing for direct inter­ven­tion from the gov­ern­ment for the pro­tec­tion of bio­di­ver­sity… our strat­egy must be to focus on bio­di­ver­sity and qual­ity of our prod­ucts,” Prandini said.

A sce­nario that [must] put the extra vir­gin olive oil mar­ket at the cen­ter of the scene, given the world pri­macy of Made in Italy high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oils and the largest num­ber of pro­tected spe­cial­ties rec­og­nized in Europe,” he added.

With 43 Protected Designations of Origin and four Protected Geographical Indicators, Prandini argued that Italy is the most bio­di­verse olive-grow­ing coun­try in the world. Italy grows 533 dif­fer­ent types of olives, as opposed to the 70 vari­eties accounted for in Spain, where mass pro­duc­tion is six­fold,” he added.

While wait­ing to deploy the reforms that will come with the Recovery Plan, the Italian Minister for Agriculture, Stefano Patuanelli, has imposed new rules for olive oil and wine sec­tor pub­lic aid.

More specif­i­cally, in the areas impacted by the spread of Xylella fas­tidiosa, the new rules ask farm­ers to re-plant their olive trees in the ded­i­cated areas within a max­i­mum time of four years after the removal inter­ven­tion.

New spe­cific reg­u­la­tions are also being intro­duced for those farm­ers hit by Xylella. They will ask for con­tin­u­ous pub­lic sup­port dur­ing the time needed for their crops to re-enter pro­duc­tion. The min­is­ter also re-cal­i­brated the rules gov­ern­ing pro­mo­tional activ­i­ties of the wine sec­tor and deferred the terms of a series of pend­ing pay­ments for wine pro­duc­ers.

In a press release, the Italian Confederation of Agriculture (CIA) empha­sized how the Istat data show the need for new pub­lic poli­cies that put agri­cul­ture at their cen­ter.

Thanks to the Recovery Plan and the Industry 4.0 strate­gic plan, we expect mea­sures to enhance agribusi­nesses com­pet­i­tive­ness and sup­port risk man­age­ment, given the cli­matic events like the late frost that have become cycli­cal and struc­tural.” the CIA said.

The con­fed­er­a­tion also asked the gov­ern­ment to push for inno­va­tion in the sec­tor through the adop­tion of blockchain solu­tions, mod­ern­iza­tion of the infra­struc­ture, renewal of the machin­ery, bet­ter logis­tics infra­struc­ture and the no longer post­pon­ing the dig­i­tal­iza­tion of bureau­cracy.”

Italian agri­cul­ture is the main resource to kick­start a new sea­son of eco­nomic and job devel­op­ment in the coun­try,” Prandini said. To this end, we have to sup­port all com­pa­nies in the processes of inno­vat­ing and adopt­ing sus­tain­able mod­els to cur­tail bureau­cracy and sim­plify ser­vices to help the tran­si­tion towards a cir­cu­lar econ­omy model des­tined to bring more effi­ciency in the use of the resources.”

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