Forecasts of the Olive Oil Campaign 2019/20: How is it developing in the main producing countries?
Consultants and international experts from the olive oil sector address in this article the forecasts of the 2019/20 olive campaign in some of the main producing countries.
The writer, journalist, oleologist and director of Olio Officina, Luigi Caricato, says that after last year's great debacle there is a "sigh of relief." According to Caricato, last year's figures still scare the olive sector: there was a production of just over 175,000 tons of olive oil, a negative historical record. This time, however, as some agrarian organizations have already announced, "we expect an increase of around 80%." In fact, he points out that, according to their territorial sources, "we will reach about 300,000 tons of oil or, to be more generous, perhaps 350,000 tons, which will depend on the olive yield."
However, as he has noted, Italy -due to its geographical configuration- covers many different microclimates, so it never records one single data. "The general image will always be a mosaic and what is happening today is that where there was an increase in production last year, a dramatic decrease is now expected," he said.
In Garda, for example, and in other areas of Veneto, a "poor" production is expected, due to the fall of olives; while in Puglia there are signs of recovery in the north, but because of the appearance of Xylella fastidiosa there will be a dramatic drop in production in the south of the region.
In any case, according to Caricato, in the national territory the quality of the oils is guaranteed. "There have been no attacks of the olive fly until August and we will only have to wait for this situation to continue in the coming weeks," he added.
Harvesting will begin in October and only in Sicily, for some years, there is a tradition for some producers to pick the olives in September, but even more for marketing needs than for agronomic reasons. “What remains a mystery is the stock of approximately 175,000 tons of oil, as can be seen in the data of SIAN, the national agricultural information system. These data are rationally inexplicable, given the very low production of last year,” he says.
As for the campaign in Greece, the broker specialized in the Greek market Luigino Mazzei has specified that they expect a total of approximately 270,000 tons, of which 80,000 t. correspond to the Peloponnese; another 80,000 t., to Crete; 40,000, to Zante, Corfu, Mytilini and Rodi; 60,000 t., to mainland Greece; and 10,000 t. to northern Greece (Chalcidice and Macedonia).
However, Mazzei believes that the total volume could vary by around 20,000 tons according to olive yields and some possible olive fly attacks at the very last moment. "So far the weather has been perfect, there have been no attacks of the olive fly or fungal diseases anywhere," he said.
He also pointed out that after the last three “poor” campaigns, a very high quality olive oil is estimated and producers will be favored if rainfall is recorded before the end of October and the beginning of November.
In Greece, usually (with some exceptions), the campaign starts between mid and late November and there are no signs of harvest anticipation at the moment.
In the case of Spain, according to the strategic consultant, international olive oil analyst and professor at the University of Jaén (UJA), Juan Vilar, the weather -which has not turned out to be especially hard during the summer, and the recent rains- have contributed to a positive evolution of the harvest, although it comes from the largest campaign obtained in our country throughout history, which will affect negatively.
Given this situation, in his analysis, subject to weather conditions and based on prudence, Vilar has indicated that the modern olive grove -more stable and regular in its productions- could produce around 850,000 tons; while the dry and traditional olive grove -much more depleted by the record campaign and with a more irregular behavior- could yield an oil production of about 400,000 or 450,000 tons, so the total production would be around 1.3 or 1, 35 million tons.
In his opinion, Spain would represent 42% of the total global campaign that is expected, being this data very similar to the previous one, but with recoveries in Portugal, Tunisia, Greece and Italy.
The Italian commercial agent and broker Adriano Caramia expects the next harvest in Tunisia to be “very good”, approaching record production figures, which will fluctuate between 320,000 and 350,000 tons.
In his opinion, abundant and well-distributed rains, both territorially and temporarily, have helped plants prepare for a good flowering.
Therefore, the harvest must be “more than satisfactory” in all areas: northern region (60.0000-70,000 tons); Sahel region (115,000-125,000 tons); central region of Kairouan-Sidi Bouzid (75,000-85,000 tons); Western Gafsa-Kasserine-Jandouba region (50,000-60,000 tons); and Sfax region (20,000-25,000 tons).
In addition, according to Caramia, the state of the plants and the fruit is "excellent" and no attacks of flies or other diseases have been detected; nor are large stocks expected at the beginning of the new campaign and it is estimated that the harvest will generalize in mid-November.
Regarding Morocco, Noureddine Ouazzani, director of Agro-pôle Olivier, has affirmed that the forecasts of the operators of the sector for the 2019/20 campaign point to a reduction by 30% in the olive oil production compared to the average of the last four years.
Currently, estimates range from 90,000 to 110,000 tons of olive oil.
“Although the weather conditions were favorable, last year's record production has limited an interesting production. This is a year of normal alternation,” he said, while detailing that the price of virgin olive oil is currently between 2.5 and 2.70 euros/kg.
In Portugal -has informed Alberto Serralha, CEO of Sociedade Agrícola Ouro Vegetal, S.A. (SAOV), producer and international consultant of olive oil-, after a “bad harvest”, the trees have recovered generating a very abundant flowering with good fruit set. Until September this summer has been little hot, mainly in the center and north of Portugal, weather conditions that have enhanced very early attacks of the olive fly, causing much of the poorly maintained olive groves to suffer severe damage. These olive groves normally represent between 10 and 20% of the oil produced in the country.
According to Serralha, from north to south of Portugal, both in irrigation and in dry land there is a very strong olive load and the color of the fruit shows an advance of the harvest despite the fact that the oil accumulation is lower than usual. In his opinion, there are conditions to obtain a record harvest but a rainy autumn can bring anthracnose problems, since the skin of the olive is very damaged by the olive fly.
“If serious health problems do not occur and oil accumulation improves, we could produce more than 150,000 tons of oil this year, with the Alentejo region easily exceeding 120,000 t. In addition, the conditions are right for it to be a good year regarding quality, although there are more risks than in previous years,” he said.
Regarding prices, close to 2.8 euros/kg. are expected for the first cisterns of the campaign, as well as some decreases as the offer increases.