Business

Italian Production Reaches Record Low

Final figures on Italian olive oil production for the 2018-19 season were released by the Institute of Services for the Agricultural and Food Market.

May. 29, 2019
By Ylenia Granitto

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The Institute of Services for the Agricultural and Food Market (ISMEA) has released the final olive oil pro­duc­tion fig­ures for Italy, which esti­mated that 175,000 tons were pro­duced in the 2018/19 har­vest season — the lowest output since 1990.

Representing a 59.2‑percent decrease com­pared to last year, Italian olive oil pro­duc­tion has hit a his­toric low. Ismea’s ini­tial esti­mate was revised down by 10,000 tons after the har­vest season had offi­cially ended and all the pro­duc­tion dec­la­ra­tions were gath­ered by the Italian Agricultural Payments Agency.

The pro­duc­tion decrease was mainly due to extreme weather events, which have become increas­ingly fre­quent through­out the world. Consequently, Italy has suf­fered from sev­eral poor har­vests over the last decade and has seen sev­eral large fluc­tu­a­tions in pro­duc­tion recently.

See more: Olive Oil Production News

These fluc­tu­a­tions are evi­dent enough when look­ing at the per­cent­age vari­a­tions in vol­umes between this year and last year. According to Ismea’s report, south­ern areas of the coun­try suf­fered the most. Basilicata expe­ri­enced a record 81-per­cent decrease in volume com­pared with the pre­vi­ous cam­paign. Meanwhile, Calabria saw a decline of 76.6 per­cent, Sicily endured a 66.2‑percent decrease and Puglia expe­ri­enced a 64.8‑percent decline.

The sit­u­a­tion was slightly dif­fer­ent in cen­tral areas of the coun­try, such as Liguria, which saw pro­duc­tion increase by 17.5 per­cent. Tuscany and Umbria also expe­ri­enced pro­duc­tion increases of 31.3 and 40.4 per­cent, respec­tively.

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Meanwhile, the north of the coun­try expe­ri­enced remark­able growth, with pro­duc­tion fig­ures more than dou­bling in some places. Lombardy expe­ri­enced a pro­duc­tion increase of 153 per­cent, while Piemonte saw its pro­duc­tion rise by 155 per­cent. Veneto’s pro­duc­tion increased more than three-fold, increas­ing by an incred­i­ble 221 per­cent com­pared to last year.

In the hard­est-hit areas, pro­duc­tion decreases meant some olive mills had to close as early as December, while others did not even open. Coldiretti, the asso­ci­a­tion of farm­ers, and Italia Olivicola drew atten­tion to the loss of work­ing days by hold­ing ral­lies in Rome demand­ing com­pen­sa­tion for those impacted by the sec­tor’s down­turn.


However, the sharp decline in volume did not impact qual­ity, as was seen in the results of 2019 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition in which Italian pro­duc­ers took home 152 awards, the most of any coun­try.

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See more: The Best Italian Olive Oils

Ismea’s report also showed how prices of extra virgin olive oil were impacted by the poor har­vest. Starting in the summer, olive oil prices rose from €4.04 ($4.52) per kilo­gram to €5.60 ($6.27) before decreas­ing a bit in February. However, by April, prices rose again, reach­ing an aver­age of €5.65 ($6.33) per kilo­gram due to abun­dant Spanish pro­duc­tion and the pro­gres­sive exhaus­tion of stocks of the higher qual­ity prod­uct.

Prices of lam­pante oil, which are tra­di­tion­ally driven by the Iberian market, fol­lowed a declin­ing trend until they reached the lowest levels in recent years.

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The drop in pro­duc­tion also stim­u­lated demand for for­eign imports of olive oil and lam­pante oil. At the end of 2018, Italy imported 512,000 tons of olive oil and an addi­tional 38,000 tons of lam­pante.

Italy also main­tained its role in the olive oil export market, rank­ing second after Spain, and earn­ing an annual turnover of €1.48 mil­lion ($1.66 mil­lion) from 333,000 tons of exports. In spite of the poor pro­duc­tion year, Italian exports remained stable, com­pared with the pre­vi­ous year, and olive oil exports to Australia, Canada, Brazil, Taiwan, South Korea, Austria, the Netherlands, the U.K., Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and Japan increased.