Early Estimates Point to Lower Production in Italy

As the harvest gets underway in Sicily, three of Italy’s main agricultural organizations estimate this year’s olive oil harvest will be earlier and smaller than last year.
Sep. 23, 2020
Paolo DeAndreis

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The lat­est esti­mates for the 2020/21 crop year in Italy show a 22-per­cent decrease in olive oil pro­duc­tion com­pared to last year, accord­ing to three major agri­cul­tural asso­ci­a­tions.

The farm­ers asso­ci­a­tion, Coldiretti, the Unaprol Consortium and the Institute for Food and Agriculture Market Services (Ismea) have warned that the effects of this summer’s extreme weather events have impacted the har­vest in all of the country’s main pro­duc­ing regions.

The choice of many farm­ers to pro­ceed with an early har­vest in 2020 because of the cli­mate con­di­tions means pri­or­ity must be given to the qual­ity of the prod­uct, not to its quan­tity.- David Granieri, pres­i­dent, Unaprol

Italian pro­duc­ers are expected to yield 287,000 tons of olive oil this year. In 2019, the yield reached 366,000 tons.

These fig­ures are well below the aver­age num­bers recorded until 2014 and seem to con­firm a trend of pro­gres­sively declin­ing pro­duc­tion.

See Also: 2020 Harvest Updates

The heat and pro­longed drought in many regions have con­tributed to most pro­duc­ers plan­ning an early har­vest.

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Coldiretti pub­lished its mar­ket data as the first olive har­vest took place at the Frantoio Cutrera mill, near Ragusa, Sicily.

The asso­ci­a­tion warned that the final results of the 2020 har­vest may be even lower than ini­tial esti­mates since rough weather is now hit­ting many Italian regions with sud­den tem­per­a­ture drops and strong winds.

Still, some stake­hold­ers remain opti­mistic about the har­vest.

The olive oil sec­tor has shown resilience to the health cri­sis,” Raffaele Borriello, head of Ismea, said. In the first six months of 2020, bot­tled olive oil has shown a growth in exports, with a 28-per­cent increase to the United States and 42-per­cent increase to France.”

The esti­mates for the cur­rent sea­son show a slow­ing pro­duc­tion which will be char­ac­ter­ized by a high prod­uct qual­ity level,” Borriello added. Diminished avail­abil­ity of the national prod­uct and the reduced stor­age esti­mates in the European Union could fuel a rise in price at ori­gin, heav­ily hit in the last sea­son.”

According to Coldiretti, the price at ori­gin of olive oil has fallen by 44 per­cent in Italy, with val­ues that have not been seen since 2014.”

A trend, caused by the avail­abil­ity on the inter­na­tional mar­kets of old Spanish olive oil that often ends up being sold as Italian olive oil,” Coldiretti said.

The choice of many farm­ers to pro­ceed with an early har­vest in 2020 because of the cli­mate con­di­tions means pri­or­ity must be given to the qual­ity of the prod­uct, not to its quan­tity, and pre­fer the prof­itabil­ity per hectare to the yield per quin­tal,” David Granieri, the pres­i­dent of the Unaprol, added.





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