Italy’s New Lockdown Hits Olive Oil Sector, Again

New Covid containment measures threaten the rise in domestic olive oil consumption that has buoyed the sector.
By Paolo DeAndreis
Nov. 9, 2020 10:16 UTC

New Covid-19 con­tain­ment mea­sures announced by the Italian gov­ern­ment will once again impact the coun­try’s restau­rant and food pro­duc­tion sec­tors.

According to the lat­est esti­mates pub­lished by the farm­ers asso­ci­a­tion Coldiretti, the dam­age for the manda­tory clo­sure of restau­rants for the next month will cost the sec­tor €3.8 bil­lion ($4.47 bil­lion).

The new halt makes us fear fur­ther neg­a­tive effects on a sec­tor that, even dur­ing these dif­fi­cult months, had gone ahead in cre­at­ing value.- Anna Cane, pres­i­dent, Assitol

The new rules designed to com­bat the Covid-19 pan­demic directly involve the oper­a­tions of more than 180,000 restau­rants, pizze­rias, bars and pubs (the so-called Horeca sec­tor). The mea­sures are also expected to sus­pend oper­a­tions at more than 10,000 farm­houses.

The north­ern region of Lombardy, which has been hit hard by the virus, will face the most severe con­se­quences from the new con­tain­ment mea­sures. More than 51,000 food venues are located in the region.

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Within the areas of the national ter­ri­tory iden­ti­fied as red zones, all activ­i­ties related to the admin­is­tra­tion of food are sus­pended and that includes the farm­houses,” Coldiretti wrote in a note. As a whole, we are talk­ing about more than half of the restau­rant activ­ity in Italy.”

While home deliv­ery and take away oper­a­tions will still be avail­able, those are viable options only for a small por­tion of the busi­nesses impacted by the new con­tain­ment mea­sures.

The effects of the manda­tory clo­sure of the restau­rants rever­ber­ate through­out the whole agribusi­ness sec­tor, with can­cel­la­tions already hit­ting the sup­ply of prod­ucts, from wine and olive oil to meat and fish, to cold cuts, cheeses, veg­eta­bles and fruits,” Coldiretti said. Food whose pro­duc­ers count on restau­rants as a very rel­e­vant mar­ket.”

For some sup­pli­ers, specif­i­cally of fish and wine, the restau­rant and hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tors are cur­rently the most impor­tant mar­ket for their prod­ucts.

A warn­ing about the con­se­quences of the new mea­sures has also come from Assitol. In a press release, the Italian Association of the Olive Oil Industry empha­sized how the Horeca cri­sis is already tak­ing its toll on the olive oil sec­tor.

Up to this moment, domes­tic con­sump­tion and rel­e­vant exports allowed us to deal with the slow­ing sales in restau­rants, which account for a third of the inter­nal mar­ket,” Assitol pres­i­dent Anna Cane said. The new halt makes us fear fur­ther neg­a­tive effects on a sec­tor that, even dur­ing these dif­fi­cult months, had gone ahead in cre­at­ing value.”

According to Coldiretti, Italian agribusi­ness exports have sus­tained the sec­tor in the first seven months of 2020, with a 3.5 per­cent increase in sales abroad — fig­ures that will not be seen again this year.

Coldiretti cited the lock­down enforced in Germany, where export num­bers had gone up seven per­cent in the last few months. Many of the most impor­tant mar­kets for Italian agribusi­ness exports are clos­ing down or severely lim­it­ing their activ­i­ties.


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