`Argentine Olive Oil Producers Face Poor Harvest, Low Prices - Olive Oil Times

Argentine Olive Oil Producers Face Poor Harvest, Low Prices

Jun. 24, 2014
Charlie Higgins

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Argentina has expe­ri­enced one of its worst olive har­vests in recent years, a sit­u­a­tion that’s caus­ing a great deal of con­cern among olive oil pro­duc­ers in Mendoza and neigh­bor­ing provinces, accord­ing to the news­pa­per Los Andes.

The Institute of Rural Development (IDR) esti­mated a below aver­age olive har­vest of 28,277 MT, rep­re­sent­ing a 65 per­cent reduc­tion from last year. Some esti­mates have pegged this year’s olive oil pro­duc­tion at well below 10,000 MT for a coun­try that typ­i­cally pro­duces around 30,000 MT. Heavy rains are largely to blame for the poor results, while bot­tom-of-the-bar­rel inter­na­tional prices have fur­ther dis­cour­aged producers.

This year we had one of the worst har­vests in twenty years. Olives arriv­ing at the fac­to­ries from the east­ern part of [Mendoza] province for olive oil pro­duc­tion have been less than 10 per­cent of what we processed last year,” said Armando Mansur who owns Olivares de Don Ignacio and pre­sides over the Mendoza Olive Producers Association (Asolmen).

Meanwhile, Spain pro­duced a record 1,758,000 MT of olive oil this year, caus­ing inter­na­tional prices to bot­tom out. This sit­u­a­tion affects prices in Argentina because, although olive oil imports are heav­ily taxed at 31.5 per­cent, national pro­duc­ers who raise their prices too much risk los­ing clients if import­ing becomes a more attrac­tive option for them.

The com­bi­na­tion of these fac­tors have forced a num­ber of pro­duc­ers to close shop indef­i­nitely, a trend that has Marcos Lopez of Eliá very con­cerned for the future.

I wouldn’t worry so much in a year like this if a farm didn’t oper­ate because there was no pro­duc­tion. What really wor­ries me is that some farms have decided not to reopen. They see no favor­able prospects in the medium or long term,” Lopez said.

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One thing is a bad year with a rea­son­able out­look and another is a bad year with a neg­a­tive out­look. The lat­ter forces the pro­ducer to aban­don pro­duc­tion alto­gether, and an aban­doned olive grove will never recover,” he added.

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