A Bittersweet Harvest Season for Greek Producers

Olive oil of high quality, medium quantity and average prices with increased production costs amid adverse weather were the main characteristics of the harvesting season in Greece.
Apr. 26, 2022
Costas Vasilopoulos

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The 2021/22 crop year has come to an end in Greece, with the coun­try’s olive oil yield total­ing around 225,000 tons, an 18-per­cent reduc­tion com­pared to the 275,000 tons of 2020/21.

According to offi­cial data and esti­mates from the International Olive Council, Greece remains the third-largest pro­ducer in the Europan Union behind Spain and Italy.

Production was lim­ited in terms of vol­ume this sea­son; how­ever, the qual­ity of the olive oil pro­duced in the coun­try was quite sat­is­fy­ing.- Vasilios Frantzolas, olive oil qual­ity con­sul­tant

However, when the wider Mediterranean region is con­sid­ered, the coun­try ranks fifth, also being sur­passed by Tunisia and Turkey.

Despite the dis­ap­point­ing yields, pro­duc­ers reported that qual­ity remained high through­out the coun­try.

See Also:2021 Harvest Updates

Production was lim­ited in terms of vol­ume this sea­son; how­ever, the qual­ity of the olive oil pro­duced in the coun­try was quite sat­is­fy­ing,” Vasilios Frantzolas, a qual­ity con­sul­tant and expert olive oil taster, told Olive Oil Times.

Frantzolas pointed out that the unnat­ural weather through­out the sea­son was the main rea­son for the reduced yield of the coun­try.

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In gen­eral, the olive trees had a hard time cop­ing with the tem­per­a­ture fluc­tu­a­tions dur­ing the sea­son,” he said. The mild win­ter of early 2021 was fol­lowed by two frost events in March and another one in April, and the sum­mer heat­wave was the cul­mi­na­tion of the funny weather vari­a­tions.”

The net result was a notice­able reduc­tion in olive tree fruition in many areas of the coun­try,” Frantzolas added.

Crete, Laconia in the Peloponnese and the Aetolia-Acarnania dis­trict in west­ern Greece had a con­sid­er­ably more pro­duc­tive sea­son than Lesvos and the dis­tricts of Chalkidiki, Messenia and Ilia.”

Energy prices, which were on the rise in Greece, espe­cially in the sec­ond half of the crop year (from January to March), were a fac­tor to con­sider for mill own­ers who have already started to ques­tion the modus operandi of the mills in the coun­try.

If things remain unchanged, it is likely that the sta­tus of our olive oil enti­tle­ments [a per­cent­age of the olive oil pro­duced from each batch of olives with which millers in Greece are paid] will be over­turned,” said Panayiotis Zoumboulakis, head of the Sykia asso­ci­a­tion, which oper­ates a mill in Lakonia in south­ern Peloponnese.

Zoumboulakis’ words were echoed by his coun­ter­parts in other olive oil-pro­duc­ing ter­ri­to­ries.

The sta­tus should be changed, and we should get paid accord­ing to the [quan­tity of the] olives to be processed since the out­put of olive oil is reduced due to drought,” said mill owner Aris Christopoulos from the neigh­bor­ing Messenia.

Nowadays, olive oil pro­duc­ers do not take care of their groves as they used to in the past,” he added. Many of them just har­vest their olives, neglect­ing fer­til­iz­ing and other nec­es­sary oper­a­tions in the field. So far, the increased pro­duc­tion cost has been absorbed by the mill own­ers.”

Meanwhile, the Greek gov­ern­ment has waived the excise tax on diesel fuel for farm­ers until the end of 2022.

Despite the shake-up in the global mar­ket for edi­ble oils cre­ated by the war in Ukraine, olive oil prices in Greece remain vir­tu­ally unchanged com­pared to the begin­ning of the sea­son.

According to reports in the agri­cul­tural press, pro­duc­ers’ prices in most pro­duc­ing ter­ri­to­ries, includ­ing Laconia, Messenia, Heraklion and Chania, in Crete, range from €3.30 and €3.50 per kilo­gram of low-acid­ity extra vir­gin olive oil.

Nevertheless, accord­ing to the European Commission, pro­duc­ers’ prices for extra vir­gin olive oil in Greece increased by 12 per­cent in the 2021/22 crop year com­pared to the aver­age price of the past five years.

Regarding the next crop year, the prospects are promis­ing for a sub­stan­tial yield of olive oil in the coun­try.

We had low tem­per­a­tures in the win­ter, sig­nif­i­cant rain­falls in the begin­ning of the spring and a low pro­duc­tion in terms of quan­tity in the 2021/22 crop year,” Frantzolas said.

All these sug­gest a strong olive oil pro­duc­tion for Greece in the next har­vest­ing sea­son, pro­vided that the fruit fly will not cause sig­nif­i­cant prob­lems.”



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