Greek Producers Report Poor Harvest for Quantity, Quality

After a bad harvest, olive farmers and oil producers may not be able to receive compensation. However, small producers have a chance to shine in a depleted field of competitors.

Feb. 4, 2019
By Costas Vasilopoulos

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With the har­vest­ing season almost at its end in Greece, the uncer­tainty remains about the volume of olive oil pro­duced.

Some indus­try experts expect that the ini­tial pre­dic­tions will be ver­i­fied and the crop will reach 240,000 tons, while others esti­mate it to be even less and come in at around 200,000 tons.

The adverse weather and the fruit fly affected the olive oil crop in the whole coun­try. Our olive groves show a reduc­tion in their output by 35 to 45 per­cent com­pared to last season.- Iohannis Kampouris, a Mycenae-based pro­ducer and exporter

In any case, the total quan­tity of olive oil will be sig­nif­i­cantly smaller than the 350,000 tons of the pre­vi­ous season.

The major­ity of the olive oil making ter­ri­to­ries of the coun­try faced sig­nif­i­cant prob­lems with the fruit fly and fluc­tu­a­tions in the weather, which inevitably led to lower pro­duc­tion, both in terms of quan­tity and qual­ity.

See more: Greek Olive Oil News

The island of Lesvos suf­fered a severe decrease in its olive oil pro­duc­tion, as the mem­bers of the Agricultural Association of Stypsi, in the north of the island, told Olive Oil Times.


“We cul­ti­vate only the Adramytini vari­ety here and due to the many rainy days we had, har­vest­ing is still ongo­ing,” pro­duc­ers said.

“But the fruit fly and even more the change of our micro­cli­mate that brought peri­ods of warm weather when we should have cold weather, seri­ously affected our olive trees and the pro­duced olive oil,” they added.

Their esti­ma­tion of the total pro­duc­tion was dis­ap­point­ing, as it is likely to be only half of last year’s yield.


“We expect to get around 50 per­cent of the pre­vi­ous season’s olive oil in our area with most of it being virgin and not extra virgin, while the whole island will likely make 4,000 to 5,000 tons com­pared to 12,000 tons deliv­ered the last season,” pro­duc­ers said. “So, we will have sig­nif­i­cantly less extra virgin to sell as stan­dard­ized extra virgin olive oil of Lesvos.”

In Halkidiki, an area well-known for its table olives and also for its early har­vested extra virgin olive oil, Ioannis Schinas is the owner of a mill located on the Kassandra penin­sula.


He told Olive Oil Times that the cur­rent har­vest­ing season is far from pros­per­ous, with the quan­tity having plum­meted as never before.

“Out of four mills located on the Kassandra penin­sula ours was the only one that oper­ated this season,” he said. “We man­aged to get only 20 tons of olive oil, while the pre­vi­ous season the over­all pro­duc­tion was 2,000 tons from all the four mills.”

He also stum­bled upon a sit­u­a­tion he had never faced before, with some of his extra virgin olive oil being degraded to lam­pante oil when exported to Italy.

“Our tests here clas­si­fied it as extra virgin, but the ana­lyt­i­cal tests in Italy clas­si­fied it as lam­pante, not even virgin,” Schinas said. “This was because of the mag­ni­tude of the damage the fruit fly had caused that ren­dered some of our extra virgin to be of lower qual­ity, some­thing that the ini­tial tests had failed to pin­point. I know that this has hap­pened to many other pro­duc­ers and mill owners in the coun­try.”

Iohannis Kampouris, a pro­ducer and exporter of olive oil based near ancient Mycenae, pointed out the usual sus­pects for the reduced crop this season.

“The adverse weather and the fruit fly affected the olive oil crop in the whole coun­try. Our olive groves in Korinthia, Lakonia, and Lamia show a reduc­tion in their output by 35 to 45 per­cent com­pared to last season,” he said.

But despite the grim sit­u­a­tion, he iden­ti­fied an oppor­tu­nity that might exist for small pro­duc­ers to stand out.


“The pro­duc­ers who devoted time to cater to their groves and exe­cuted pre­cise crop-dust­ing oper­a­tions received olive oils of high qual­ity, pro­vided that har­vest and pro­cess­ing of the olives occurred on time,” he said. “So, instead of the usual mass pro­duc­tion, small pro­duc­ers will be able to demon­strate their qual­ity prod­ucts.”

Several other ter­ri­to­ries of Greece are expected to have lower olive oil yields this year as well.

In Messinia, one of the most boun­ti­ful areas of the coun­try, the pro­duc­tion is cal­cu­lated at only 38,000 tons with 75 per­cent of it being extra virgin olive oil. The har­vest of the whole region usu­ally exceeds 50,000 tons of top-qual­ity olive oil.

In the neigh­bor­ing region of Lakonia, the over­all yield is expected to be less than half of the usual 25,000 tons of olive oil.

In Crete, which nor­mally makes up one-third of the coun­try’s total olive oil pro­duc­tion, the yield is esti­mated at roughly 60,000 tons com­pared to 85,000 tons in the pre­vi­ous season.

In the mean­time, some mem­bers of par­lia­ment urged the Ministry of Agriculture to pro­vide com­pen­sa­tion for affected olive oil pro­duc­ers by employ­ing the so-called ‘de min­imis’ aid funds of the European Commission.

The min­istry replied that most of the avail­able de min­imis funds have already been allo­cated to other sec­tors, and there was no com­mit­ment for hand­outs any time soon.