Andalusia, Spain

The Spanish comunidad autónoma (CCAA), Andalusia is celebrating a huge increase in olive oil exports for the first half of 2014. According to the Extenda-Trade Promotion Agency of Andalusia, exports between Juanuary and June, 2014 reached €1.07 billion ($1.4 billion).

The numbers marked a 76 percent increase compared to the same period in 2013. In recent months a crippling drought is plaguing the region, and this year’s harvest is expected to be much less fruitful.

The explosive growth of exports in Andalusia is partly thanks to the increase in US imports of Spanish olive oil, helping the country take the lead over Italy as the world’s largest olive oil exporter. US imports of Andalusian olive oil tripled over the first half of 2014. Andalusia is by far the largest producer of olive oil in Spain, contributing to nearly three quarters of the country’s total exports.

The positive numbers are welcome in the region, where widespread drought is forecast to devastate this season’s harvest. The harvest, which occurs from October to January, is anticipated to fall by 40 percent compared to last year.

“Not even the most optimistic are predicting a million tonnes,” said David Erice of Spain’s Small Farmers Union in an interview with The Guardian. “We’re expecting something closer to 2012, when production was around 700,000 tonnes.”

The wildly successful harvest of last season is also a contributing factor to the projected fall in production. Trees become exhausted after a large harvest, and often produce fewer olives the following year.

September’s olive oil futures are at their highest level since June 2013, as consumer prices are expected to rise €0.50 ($0.66) per liter. In 2012, another debilitating drought led to a 13% increase in price.

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