Olive oil production in Italy has fallen on hard times. For a few years now, production has fallen to less than half of the national demand.
According to Spanish media company Olimerca, this is because many olive groves are abandoned. Which has led to nearly 200,000 hectares planted with olive trees falling into disuse. In addition, a further 300,000 hectares are subject to minimal maintenance work. This ensures minimum production in the absence of political support.
Olive oil even more expensive
Producers fear that foreign demand will increase and that this will further increase high prices. “It is inconceivable, with inflation rising and the difficulty of many families to make ends meet, that Italy’s means of production are not fully utilised,” said Gennaro Sicolo, president of Italia Olivicola.
He continued: “This is the case with national olive growing, which has not been taken seriously by Italian and EU politics for many years. They were convinced that the production of the Old Continent was largely superfluous. However, in the last two olive oil seasons, production was reduced to half of what was expected. This has been a wake-up call for politics. Climate change is forcing a change of course in the interests of consumers, the territory and the national economy”,
Impact on the olive sector in Spain
The olive sector in Spain, which is aware of the importance of olive oil in the Mediterranean diet and in the economy, is closely monitoring the development of the situation in Italy.
Due to the link between the Spanish industry and the Italian industry, the potential Italian catastrophe could have an impact on the price and supply of olive oil. If one of the world’s leading producers withdraws from the international market, this is likely to lead to an increase in exports to countries where the quota cannot be met.
Main producers of olive oil
Spain, Italy and Greece are still the main producers of olive oil in the world. However, there are also emerging countries. Turkey, Egypt, Morocco or Algeria are investing millions in the development of an olive oil industry in their countries. They may pose a threat to the traditional countries that produce olive oil.
Subsidies to oil producers, the planting of new olive trees, and improved cultivation techniques have all contributed to the growth of production in these emerging countries, with a positive impact on the local economy. With more jobs, higher incomes and diversified rural economies.