Larger crops from Greece, Tunisia and Italy have helped offset the market but not enough to recover the decline
Larger crops from Greece, Tunisia and Italy have helped offset the market but not enough to recover the decline

Diseased Italian trees and Spanish drought causing 'steep decline' in global olive oil production – but relief is on the way

But the market is set to recover later this year – as long as the weather remains favourable in Spain

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
Thursday 19 March 2015 13:43

Extremely dry weather conditions in Spain and the spread of disease among olive trees in Italy has caused a “steep decline” in global olive oil production, significantly pushing up prices worldwide – but forecasters believe there is “relief on the horizon” for lovers of the precious ingredient.

A 54 per cent crop failure in Spain due to last year’s drought and the diseased trees in Italy’s southern region of Apuglia caused global olive oil production to be down by 0.8 million tonnes this season compared to the previous year.

Spain is the world’s largest producer of olive oil, and the country’s crop issue has already led to the price of the country’s product rising by 23 per cent this year, while global prices of olive oil hit a decade-long high in January.

The production of olive oil is set to rise once more as Spain's crops recover

Despite bigger crops grown in Greece, Tunisia and Turkey, the global supply of olive oil remains sharply reduced and an “unsustainably large” consumption of the oil in Spain will see prices continue to rise, according to Thomas Mielke, director of Oil World, the global research body analysing demand and price trends of oilseeds, oils and meals.

Speaking to The Independent, Milke said: “The situation is a steep decline in world olive oil production.

“In Spain, the consumption of olive oil has been unsustainably large, which means that in our assessment we are facing higher prices for the remainder of the season because we have consumed too much already.”

Milke called the disease infestation in Italy – where many trees have died due from a bacterium called Xylella fastidiosa - a “very serious situation” which will adversely affect Italy’s production of olive oil next year. The EU has now ordered the felling of 11 million trees in the area due the deadly infestation, the Daily Mail reports.

But Milke said that “relief is on the horizon” for olive oil buyers, as Spain is seeing its production rebounding.

This should bring down prices next year, as long as “favourable weather” in April and May “supports the flowering development of olive trees for next season’s production”.

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