Italy TravelItalian Olive Oil Supplies Running Out

Italian Olive Oil Supplies Running Out
Published on Friday, February 22, 2019 by

Climate change and disease is threatening to endanger Italian olive oil, with supply expected to run out by April. According to Italian agricultural association Coldiretti, last season’s olive harvest fell 57% to a 25-year low due to weather and disease affecting the crop. Italy is the second-largest producer of olive oil in Europe, after Spain.

“We risk for ever losing the chance to consume Italian extra virgin olive oil, which will have disastrous effects on the economy, jobs, health and the countryside,” Coldiretti said.

What’s left of the olive oil has gotten more expensive: Prices went up 31% last month.

Extreme weather resulting from climate change is putting the olive crop at risk, according to European olive oil producers’ union Unaprol. Last spring, a cold snap in Italy killed many of the olive blossoms, preventing the fruit from developing. This follows a cold snap in California in 2018, which led to a decline in Californian olive oil production of up to 50%. Further, a disease spread by insects infected olive trees in Puglia in 2018.

In addition to the declines in Italian olive oil production, Tunisia, Turkey, and Greece are expected to see production decrease by 35% to 50% this year. The International Olive Oil council estimates that in 2019, producers will supply about 3.5 million tons of olive oil globally, compared to 3.7 million tons last year.

Without a reliable olive crop to depend on, Italian producers may have to source more product from Spain. As Europe’s largest olive oil producer, Spain is benefiting from heat waves, leading to a predicted 40% rise in Spanish olive oil production this year.

By Kathy McCabe

One Response
    • I traveled to southern Italy this past November, and it is sad to see the trees that are thousand of years old being threatened. I know that the Italians are working on a solution. It is sad in a time where the US is realizing the importance of olive oil for health. I am afraid that Spain may mass produce inferior oil that does not have the benefits that we need. Let’s hope that the governing forces will monitor the production of the olive oil that will be available to us.

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