Business

Olive Oil Production in Italy to Exceed Original Estimates

The latest figures from Ismea, in collaboration with Unaprol, show Italy’s olive oil production is expected to exceed 300,000 tons this year.

An olive grove in San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Florence
Dec. 19, 2019
By Ylenia Granitto
An olive grove in San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Florence

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Forecasts drawn up by the Institute of Services for the Agricultural and Food Market (Ismea), in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the national orga­ni­za­tion of olive oil pro­duc­ers, Unaprol, say Italy’s olive oil pro­duc­tion in 2019/20 season could reach 321,000 tons, an increase of 84 per­cent com­pared to last year.

“The figure is slightly higher than the aver­age of the last four years,” Ismea market ana­lyst, Tiziana Sarnari, told Olive Oil Times. “We should how­ever con­sider that during the pre­vi­ous cam­paign, as well as in 2016, the vol­umes pro­duced by the Italian farm­ers were very low.”

Despite the cli­mate issues, which have become increas­ingly fre­quent at a global level, pro­duc­tion increased, within a frame­work which appears to be dia­met­ri­cally opposed to last year.- Tiziana Sarnari, Ismea market ana­lyst

“Still, this year, despite the cli­mate issues, which have become increas­ingly fre­quent at a global level, pro­duc­tion increased, within a frame­work which appears to be dia­met­ri­cally opposed to last year, with a sub­stan­tial growth in the south and a decline in the center and north,” she added.

Ismea high­lights that this crop year many farm­ers first had to cope with a ther­mal shock, caused by exces­sive cold during flow­er­ing. This was fol­lowed by the sudden arrival of hot weather during set­ting, which, along with a hot and dry summer, caused con­sid­er­able water stress on the trees. Finally, in the autumn, winds and thun­der­storms slowed down the har­vest­ing oper­a­tions.

See more: 2019 Harvest News

The effects of the freez­ing weather of March 2018 also has played a part in deter­min­ing this year’s yield.

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In con­trast, other zones ben­e­fited from sea­sonal rain­falls and favor­able tem­per­a­tures. This ensured a good flow­er­ing, which in turn led to an ade­quate pol­li­na­tion and, sub­se­quently, a good fruit set­ting.

In most of south­ern Italy, ideal spring weather guar­an­teed proper veg­e­ta­tive devel­op­ment, which soon brought hope for an uptick in pro­duc­tion.

Good signs of recov­ery have been seen in Puglia, which under ideal con­di­tions accounts for half of the national pro­duc­tion, but last year recorded a 65-per­cent drop as a con­se­quence of severe frosts.

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The province of Bari-Andria-Trani enjoyed a major increase in yields. In Salento, apart from the unpro­duc­tive areas affected by Xylella fas­tidiosa, pro­duc­tion from the healthy orchards is expected to be higher than last year, thanks to abun­dant spring rains, which guar­an­teed good devel­op­ment during the flow­er­ing and fruit set­ting phases.

Larger vol­umes also are expected in Calabria, espe­cially from the groves located on the Ionian side of the province of Reggio Calabria and in the area of Cosenza. Catanzaro also enjoyed a good veg­e­ta­tive devel­op­ment, while a slight down­turn com­pared with orig­i­nal esti­mates may be caused by some vari­eties head­ing into an off-year.

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An abun­dant flow­er­ing in Sicily had led to high expec­ta­tions among experts. However, the occur­rence of unfa­vor­able weather events during fruit set­ting will likely lead to a lower yield than expected. Still, high levels of qual­ity are expected since pests did not cause any real damage to the fruit.

A sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion occurred in Sardinia, espe­cially in the south­ern part of the island, where a hot and dry summer, which hin­dered opti­mal veg­e­ta­tive growth, should not impact the upward trend.

Figures are also promis­ing in Basilicata and Molise, in spite of less than ideal weather con­di­tions during the warmer months.

In Campania, early-ripen­ing vari­eties had some prob­lems due to the heat during fruit set­ting, while others, such as Rotondella, enjoyed excel­lent results. In Abruzzo, increased pro­duc­tion is also expected and will be boosted mainly by high yields from the province of Chieti.

In Lazio, a recov­ery is expected com­pared to last year, but the pro­duc­tion may be below its poten­tial level since many reform prun­ings have been car­ried out in the olive groves affected by the Burian (the Italian name for the Beast from the East) cold wave.

In the Marche region, many olive trees are also on the road to recov­ery after Burian. Additionally, low tem­per­a­tures in the spring have caused delays in the flow­er­ing of vari­eties such as Leccino and Frantoio in some areas, where a mod­er­ate growth can be expected.

The pic­ture changes in the cen­tral regions of Umbria and Tuscany, which will prob­a­bly reg­is­ter a 30-per­cent drop com­pared to last year. The afore­men­tioned issues are at the base of the strong decrease pre­dicted by the experts in Liguria; Veneto; the whole Lake Garda area, which includes Lombardy and Trentino; and Friuli Venezia Giulia.

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Only in Piedmont, the sit­u­a­tion would pre­sum­ably be unchanged com­pared with the last cam­paign.

“According to our esti­mates, based on data by the International Olive Council and the European Commission, the world olive oil pro­duc­tion in 2019 will exceed the thresh­old of three mil­lion tons, which is, despite a small decline, still in line with the vol­umes pro­duced last year,” Sarnari said.

“An esti­mated drop of 30 per­cent for Spain, should be there­fore offset by the growth of Italy and other Mediterranean coun­tries such as Greece, with a 62-per­cent increase, Tunisia, with more than double fig­ures com­pared to last year, and Portugal, whose pro­duc­tion should grow by 25 per­cent.”