The latest data from the International Olive Council for the 2016-17 harvest reveal a decline in olive oil consumption, particularly in Europe, but the outlook for the 2017-18 season is better.
Olive oil production in the 2016-17 growing season contracted by 20 percent compared with last year, according to a report from the International Olive Council (IOC).
The biggest decreases were in the European Union, Middle East and North Africa. EU producers experienced a 25% decrease in production.
In Spain’s Autonomous Community of Andalusia, which produces more than two-thirds of Spanish olive oil, production decreased by 15.8%.
Some in the region attributed this decrease to the lack of rain. “Meteorological factors can affect the final harvest,” Rodrigo Sanchez Haro, Andalusia’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development, said.
However, he refused to solely blame the weather for the region’s downturn in production.
“It is not yet possible to know how many olives will be left uncollected due to insufficient quality or yield, as well,” he said.
Italy also experienced a hot and dry summer, receiving 30% less rain than normal. The lack of rainfall, as well as outbreak of Xylella fastidiosa in the north of the country, have both been blamed for the decrease in olive oil production.
Greece, Portugal, Cyprus, Croatia, France and Slovenia were among the other EU nations whose production dipped.
In the rest of the IOC member nations, production fell by 10%.
Countries in North Africa and the Middle East experienced the largest of these production decreases. The unusually hot and dry summer faced by the whole of the Mediterranean region was partly to blame, but in some countries, political turmoil hurt production as well.
Jordan (-32%), Tunisia (-29%), Israel (-17%), Morocco (-15%) and Libya (-11%) experienced the largest declines in production.
However, olive oil production did not decline in every IOC member nation. Egypt (+21%), Turkey (+18%) and Lebanon (+9%) all experienced substantial increases.
In spite of optimism earlier this year about increased production, Argentina experienced a 10%decrease.
Global olive oil consumption was also down 6% over the same period.
Olive oil consumption in EU countries fell by 12% with the largest decreases occurring in Greece, France and Italy. The United States and Canada also experienced dips in consumption. More