The olive oil industry in France will face a catastrophic year similar to losses growers endured in 1956. Add the bleak outlook here to similar situations throughout major parts of Italy and Spain.
France does not produce a lot of olive oil compared with its Mediterranean neighbors. On a good year, production can be around 4,500 tons, but this year it is estimated to produce only 2,000 tons — more than a 50-percent loss.
Olivier Nasles, president of L’association Française Interprofessionelle de L’Olive, (AFIDOL) the interprofessional association for olive oil in France likened the situation to a tsunami in the local olive oil industry.
The lowering of quantity, and quality, of French olives will have an effect on the entire industry including mill owners who process olives from small producers.
According to AFIDOL, this year’s winter was not cold enough to have enough of an effect on olive flies, allowing the fruit fly larvae to survive and feed. Summer brought hot and cold days, equally bad for the olives, causing them to fall to the ground.
See more: Complete Coverage of the 2014 Harvest
Some olive oil producers in Provence are concerned they might not be able to submit their products to the yearly national and international competitions, while others are worried they be unable to satisfy customers both at home and abroad.
Caught up in this trying period are Gilles and Brigitte Stalenque, who won a Gold Award for their fruity green olive oil at the New York International Olive Oil Competition last year. From their five-hectare domaine situated in the ancient village of Seillans, 72 kilometers inland from Nice, Brigitte said, “It’s so difficult to keep the morale going, we are so proud of our family business and now this.”
On a positive note, AFIDOL said that this year’s results will not have the same catastrophic effect as the drastic cold weather in 1956 when trees had to be cut down. Alexandra Paris from Afidol said producers in 1956 had to put up with serious long-term effects. Producers in France will spring back into action, Paris promised, in 2015.