` This Year's Harvest Not as Bad as the Last One, Council Wagers

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This Year's Harvest Not as Bad as the Last One, Council Wagers

Sep. 9, 2015
By Olive Oil Times Staff

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The Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil (IOC) pre­dicts olive oil pro­duc­tion for this har­vest sea­son will be some­where between the last one (the worst in nearly twenty years), and the one before that (the best of all time).

If it seems the Madrid-based inter­gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion is not exactly going out on a limb in its lat­est fore­cast, it reflects the high level of uncer­tainty about the 2015/2016 har­vest that will begin next month and the dif­fi­culty in pre­dict­ing what will hap­pen with so many mov­ing parts across vast regions, the Coun­cil said in its August newslet­ter.

The IOC pegged pro­duc­tion for the 2015/2016 har­vest at more than 2.5 mil­lion tons,” or, in other words, it won’t be the worst har­vest in 15 years. The Coun­cil declined to define an upper limit to its fore­cast. Last year’s dis­mal pro­duc­tion total was 2.4 mil­lion tons.
See more: World Olive Oil Pro­duc­tion Fig­ures (PDF)
In mak­ing its pre­dic­tion for the com­ing har­vest the IOC made no men­tion of Italy, which last year had one of its worst sea­sons on record, and it was unclear what data from other major pro­duc­ers like Tunisia and Greece were fac­tored into the fore­cast.

As for Spain, the world’s largest olive oil pro­ducer, the pic­ture is far from clear either. An expert with AEMO, the Span­ish Asso­ci­a­tion of Olive Munic­i­pal­i­ties, José María Penco, said an analy­sis of the agro-cli­matic vari­ables that affect fruit devel­op­ment point to a wide vari­a­tion between irri­gated and non-irri­gated farms, and all that can be said so far is that we are not look­ing at a bumper crop this year.

A more accu­rate mea­sure of the har­vest would require an on-the-ground sur­vey of farms but, Penco explained, such a sys­tem is only in place in the Span­ish province of Andalu­sia, which had not yet released its fig­ures.

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Going on cli­matic data alone, Penco explained to the IOC, it does­n’t look good. In July, tem­per­a­tures reached 40 °C (104 °F) on more than twenty days in south­ern Spain caus­ing fruit that had not yet com­pleted the stone hard­en­ing stage to wither away and fall to the ground.

For his part, Penco places an upper limit for this year’s pro­duc­tion in Spain at 1.2 mil­lion tons, a marked improve­ment over last year’s 825,000 tons, but a long way from its 2013/2014 record of 1.78 mil­lion.

All this uncer­tainty along with a dwin­dling sup­ply of last year’s stock has con­tin­ued to push olive oil prices higher around the world. Prices for extra vir­gin, as well as refined oils from Spain, Italy, Greece and Tunisia are all at or near record lev­els.

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