Bumper Harvest in Spain Comes With Drought, Coronavirus Concerns

Spain is expected to produce 1.6 million tons of olive oil this season. Slowing sales in the hospitality sector and a dry summer and spring have some producers concerned.

By Daniel Dawson
Nov. 5, 2020 10:03 UTC

The 2020 olive har­vest is in full swing through­out Spain, with the world’s largest olive oil pro­duc­ing coun­try expected to yield 1,633,000 tons, the sec­ond-high­est total in the past decade.

According to data com­piled by Juan Vilar Strategic Consultants, Spanish pro­duc­ers are expect­ing a healthy rebound. This year’s har­vest is set to be 15-per­cent higher than the rolling five-year aver­age and a marked improve­ment from the pre­vi­ous har­vest, which saw the coun­try yield just 1.25 mil­lion tons.

We started on October 12 and for now it is look­ing good despite this drought that we are suf­fer­ing.- Paco Vañó, co-owner, Castillo de Canena

Despite opti­mistic anec­do­tal reports from Jaén, the country’s largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing province by a wide mar­gin, there remain con­cerns among some olive farm­ers regard­ing the dry spring and sum­mer months as well as the sec­ond wave of Covid-19 infec­tions plagu­ing the coun­try.

We started on October 12 and for now it is look­ing good despite the weather, this drought that we are suf­fer­ing,” Paco Vañó, the co-owner of Castillo de Canena, told Agropopular.

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Drought has been one of the main con­cerns of the Jaén-based farmer, who irri­gates all of his olive trees.

Water is essen­tial to achieve abun­dant har­vests and to pro­duce bal­anced oils with bal­ance and com­plex­ity,” Vañó said.

In the com­ing week, he expects all of the province’s olive farm­ers to begin har­vest­ing. For the 2020/21 crop year, Jaén is expected to pro­duce 630,000 tons of olive oil – as much as Italy, Portugal and Greece com­bined.

While hot and dry weather is becom­ing increas­ingly nor­mal across all of south­ern Spain, the excep­tional cir­cum­stances caused by the resur­gence Covid-19 pan­demic have also been caus­ing con­cern.

As with the end of the pre­vi­ous crop year, Vañó said that he expected bulk olive oil sales to the restau­rant, hotel and café (Horeca) sec­tor to remain quite low dur­ing 2020/21, with only a minor off­set from the increase in domes­tic olive oil con­sump­tion.

“[The pan­demic] has obstructed very impor­tant chan­nels, includ­ing the Horeca sec­tor,” he said. “[But] when some roads close, oth­ers open.”

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