New pessimistic olive oil production estimates from Italy indicate the harvest could fall by as much as 120,000 tons, 37 percent, compared to last year.
The result may be even worse if the research conducted by the Italian Institute for the Agricultural and Food Market of Ismea at the beginning of November is accurate.
According to this research, production in the 2022/23 crop year is estimated at 208,000 tons, which would see Italy fall from the second to the third largest olive oil producer in Europe.
In Spain, the world’s largest olive oil producer, the forecasts are dire as well, with an expected 30- to 50-percent drop in production from the Iberian country. Yields are also expected to drop in Portugal and France.
The cause of this dramatic decrease across Southern and Western Europe has largely been attributed to the historic drought and high summer tempretures, which hindered the vegetative development of olive trees and the accumulation of oil in the fruits.
Regarding the leading producer countries, it is estimated that only Greece can exceed last year’s yield and reach more than 300,000 tons, thus occupying the place that previously belonged to Italy.
Other exceptions to Europe’s poor harvest come from the olive groves running along the rest of the Balkan Peninsula’s Adriatic coastline.
Initial reports have found the olives in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovia and Montenegro, where timely rains during August and September enhanced oil accumulation, are healthy.
Along with low rates of pests and diseases, producers on the Adriatic coastline anticipate better harvests than last year and high quality. They said the olive oils stand out for their spiciness and bitterness but do not lack fruitiness.
The European Commission has predicted a 25% decrease in olive oil production from the seven main producing countries in the 27-member bloc.