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Italian Production in 2019 Exceeds Initial Estimates

Italian olive oil production reached 365,000 tons, an increase of 110 percent compared to 2018 and 25,000 tons higher than initial estimates. Consumption, imports and exports also increased.

Apr. 21, 2020
By Ylenia Granitto

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Ital­ian olive oil pro­duc­tion in the 2019/20 crop year amounted to nearly 365,000 tons, a higher total than pre­vi­ously expected, accord­ing to the lat­est report by the Insti­tute of Ser­vices for the Agri­cul­tural and Food Mar­ket (Ismea).

Based on dec­la­ra­tions that were pro­vided by mills up until mid-March, when har­vest­ing oper­a­tions were con­cluded, the 2019 yield is more than dou­ble the vol­ume of the pre­vi­ous year.

The national out­put has returned to good lev­els and, even though it is far from being con­sid­ered abun­dant, the growth fig­ures are rel­e­vant.- Tiziana Sarnari, Ismea mar­ket ana­lyst

The national out­put has returned to good lev­els and, even though it is far from being con­sid­ered abun­dant, the growth fig­ures are rel­e­vant,” Tiziana Sarnari, the Ismea mar­ket ana­lyst, told Olive Oil Times.

On the basis of the data ana­lyzed, the penin­sula can be divided into two parts: the north with dras­tic reduc­tions that in some cases have led to almost zero vol­ume, and the south with increases in all regions, some of which have dou­bled or tripled the poor yield of the pre­vi­ous years.”

See more: 2019 Har­vest News

Puglia, which usu­ally accounts for half of national pro­duc­tion but suf­fered from severe frosts last year, recov­ered to the nor­mal out­put and recorded 208,755 tons.

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In Cal­abria, vol­umes more than tripled (+284 per­cent) com­pared to the pre­vi­ous crop year, exceed­ing the aver­age of the last four years by a large mar­gin. Mean­while, pro­duc­tion in Sicily returned to nor­mal lev­els, with 34,000 tons.

Basil­i­cata also reg­is­tered a huge increase in pro­duc­tion (+412 per­cent). Large increases were also expe­ri­enced in Cam­pa­nia and Sar­dinia, while more mod­est gains have been recorded in Lazio, Marche, Abruzzo, and Molise.

On the other hand, Tus­cany, Umbria, Emilia Romagna and Friuli Venezia Giu­lia all expe­ri­enced pro­duc­tion decreases in 2019.

How­ever, the sharpest decline was recorded in Trentino Alto Adige (-98 per­cent), fol­lowed closely by Lom­bardy (-91.7 per­cent), Veneto (-91.2 per­cent), Pied­mont (-88 per­cent) and Lig­uria (-71.6 per­cent) – areas which account for a small per­cent­age of the national pro­duc­tion.

In response to these data, Ital­ian olive oil prices in the first quar­ter of 2020 fol­lowed a down­ward trend, decreas­ing by 44 per­cent com­pared with the same period last year (falling from €5.61/$6.08 per kilo­gram to €3.10/$3.36).

The abun­dant stocks at the begin­ning of the cam­paign, espe­cially in Spain, has dri­ven down inter­na­tional prices,” Sarnari said, point­ing out that in Italy the decline had inten­si­fied in early sum­mer and per­sisted until the autumn, with the open­ing of the mills and the expec­ta­tion of a rea­son­able pro­duc­tion.

Accord­ing to the report, Spain also reg­is­tered a 21-per­cent drop in prices, which fell to €2.13 ($2.31) per kilo­gram, com­pared to €2.68 ($2.91) at the same time last year.

This decrease in prices, which were already par­tic­u­larly attrac­tive, has allowed bot­tling com­pa­nies to buy at afford­able rates both in Italy and abroad, and so far, despite the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion due to the COVID-19 cri­sis, they do not seem to have sup­ply prob­lems,” the Ismea ana­lyst said.

The stocks were, there­fore, effec­tive in off­set­ting the slight decrease in world olive oil pro­duc­tion.

Accord­ing to the lat­est esti­mates by the Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil, Spain suf­fered a con­sid­er­able decline in pro­duc­tion, record­ing a 35-per­cent decrease com­pared with 2018.

On the other hand, Greece expe­ri­enced an increase, although pro­duc­tion was lower than expected at the begin­ning of the har­vest. Tunisia and Turkey also expe­ri­enced pro­duc­tion increases.

Over the last two months, as mills grad­u­ally ended their activ­ity, the mar­ket has gone through a more reflec­tive phase, in which bot­tling com­pa­nies are in no hurry to buy, while the pro­duc­ers wait for more favor­able prices,” Sarnari said.

She added that pri­vate stor­age aid is also hav­ing an impact on prices.

More­over, based on data received from the Ital­ian National Insti­tute of Sta­tis­tics (Istat), Ismea indi­cates that for 2019, Ital­ian olive oil and pomace imports have exceeded 600,000 tons at an expen­di­ture of €1.4 bil­lion ($1.52 bil­lion).

While this fig­ure rep­re­sents a 9.5‑percent increase in vol­ume, it is also a 13-per­cent decrease in spend­ing, due to the reduc­tion in inter­na­tional prices.

Exports also increased slightly in vol­ume, reach­ing 339,000 tons, but only amount­ing to €1.37 bil­lion ($1.48 bil­lion) in value, a decrease of 8.5 per­cent.

The abun­dant avail­abil­ity of Span­ish olive oil helped to meet grow­ing Ital­ian demand as olive oil con­sump­tion also grew by 26 per­cent.

Mean­while, imports from Greece and Tunisia decreased. Exports to the United States remained sta­ble, while those to Ger­many, France and the United King­dom grew.

We have to wait a few weeks, when the sit­u­a­tion con­cern­ing the health cri­sis will be more defined in Italy, Spain, Greece and Tunisia,” Sarnari said, adding that in the com­ing months pro­duc­ers and exporters would have to face the uncer­tainty of the U.S. tar­iffs and the imple­men­ta­tion of Brexit.

Now, how­ever, the issue of the global health cri­sis still remains, and the time and ways to get back to nor­mal will be cru­cial to under­stand the devel­op­ment of trade,” Sarnari con­cluded.





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