This week the British papers, like The Guardian and The Independent, reported on the disaster that was the 2014 olive harvest in the Mediterranean. The message to olive oil consumers: get ready for higher prices this year as the stock of 2013 extra virgin olive oil runs out and significantly less oil from last November’s harvest is available to replace it.
Poor weather (too hot, too wet), insect infestations and disease are blamed in most reports. Spain and Italy make up roughly 70% of world olive oil production and it’s estimated that they have lost more than half and more than a third of their crops respectively. Hardest hit are small scale, boutique producers who grow their own fruit. Many have cancelled all production this year.
The grim news was intimated to GFR last November at the Italian Trade Commision’s big industry wine tasting in Toronto. Penny Morse, who was there to represent Sicilian winemaker Planeta, which also makes olive oil. Planeta was commited to quality, she explained, so the quanity of oil they made last year was far less than usual. She said company was going to try to hold prices, but were limiting shipments to their most valued customers.
There may be a glimmer of hope for hard up EVOO consumers, although it’s macabre in its own right. The Olive Oil Times reports that in an effort to secure much needed funds amid their ongoing national economic crisis, Greek producers are slashing prices. Much of it, the piece goes on to say is being sold in bulk to Italian producers.