After a dismal 2014-2015 harvest, estimates for a substantial increase in Spain’s 2015-2016 olive oil production have come as welcome news. But low reserves are casting a shadow, reducing a perceived increase of 398,000 tons to an actual inventory increase of just 80,000.

In October, the Government of Andalucia released official estimates that the country’s olive oil industry should produce some 1,240,000 tons during the 2015-2016 season, a seemingly large increase over last year’s output of just 842,000 tons.

Ultimately, however, the actual inventory increase will be a great deal less given that this year follows a very poor 2014-2015 production season. Cristobal Gallego of Asaja Jaén told elEconomista Agro that “on October 1st of last year, there were reserves of around 500,000 tons, and reserves this year are only around 180,000 tons.”

This means that this year Spain will have an inventory of 1,420,000 versus 1,342,000 last year, translating to a mere 80,000-ton increase.

As it stands, the existing reserves are likely owed to the price increases over the summer, which left consumers turning to alternatives. Explained Gallego, “If the prices hadn’t gone up as they did in August, we would have been left without oil.”

With supply still limited, the industry now looks to the future, hoping that after two relatively unproductive seasons (one very bad; the other just average), that next year will bring more promise.

The outlook, however, isn’t necessarily good. Rain, which can be beneficial during harvest — both for the olives being harvested, and the season to come — has so far been limited.

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