Poor Demand for Kalamata Olives in Greece

Thousands of tons of Kalamata olives remain idle in many producing territories of the country as a result of the pandemic and the closure of eateries.
Jul. 7, 2020
Costas Vasilopoulos

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In the after­shock of the pan­demic, the demand for Kalamata olives (also known as Kalamon olives) has plum­meted in Greece as much of the 2019 har­vest yield remains unmar­keted and prices hov­er­ing low in sev­eral pro­duc­ing ter­ri­to­ries of the coun­try.

Many grow­ers have left their olive groves unat­tended and now they are full of weeds. The state should have con­trolled the sit­u­a­tion some­how. If things do not change quickly, we are going to aban­don them.- Giorgos Loukas, pro­ducer in Fthiotida

In the Aetolia-Acarnania region in cen­tral-west Greece, where more than half of the coun­try’s crop of Kalamata olives is pro­duced, only a small por­tion of the sea­son’s har­vest has been absorbed by the mar­ket so far.

It looked like a good year and the olives were sell­ing nor­mally, but the pan­demic was a major blow that caused 70 to 80 per­cent of our pro­duc­tion to remain idle,” Fotis Akridas, the head of the asso­ci­a­tion of Aetoliko pro­duc­ers, said.

The olives were mostly sold abroad and to eater­ies. The price for a kilo of olives ranges between €0.82 ($0.92) and € 1.22 ($1.38) and we had to sell even at € 0.80 ($0.90). How are we going to cover our needs in the com­ing sea­son? There is no real inter­est from traders to buy since there is lim­ited mar­ket demand,” Akridas added.

Akridas also com­plained that table olive pro­duc­ers were excluded from the state-pro­vided finan­cial sup­port to vul­ner­a­ble busi­ness sec­tors hit by the pan­demic and under­lined that action is needed to demand com­pen­sa­tion for their losses of income.

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Similar prob­lems for Kalamata olive pro­duc­ers also emerged in other areas of the coun­try like Fthiotida and Lakonia, with non-exis­tent demand and shabby prices.

The sit­u­a­tion is dra­matic,” pro­ducer Giorgos Loukas from Fthiotida said. All our pro­duc­tion remains in bins and most likely we will give the olives for pro­cess­ing the com­ing sea­son. It is not prof­itable to sell at €0.80 ($0.90) per kilo. Many grow­ers have left their olive groves unat­tended and now they are full of weeds. The state should have con­trolled the sit­u­a­tion some­how. If things do not change quickly, we are going to aban­don them.”

As a result of the mar­ket for olives stand­still, agri­cul­tural sup­ply stores oper­at­ing in the olive pro­duc­ing areas are unable to sell equip­ment and fer­til­iz­ers to the dis­tressed olive farm­ers this way adding to the rev­enue loss in the sec­tor.

All the pro­duc­tive zones of the sec­tor face obsta­cles and mea­sures are required,” agri­cul­tur­ist and farmer Andreas Charalambous from Messolonghi said. The author­i­ties must explain why we have reached this crit­i­cal point.”

Producers have asked the Ministry of Agriculture to estab­lish min­i­mum guar­an­teed prices for table olives and traders and exporters to pro­vide export data to pin­point what causes the domes­tic pro­duc­tion of Kalamata olives to stay unclaimed.



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