Recent reports of a blight on the Italian olive crop have triggered fears of shortage in Italy that would have negative impacts on the global olive oil market, including the potential for adulteration of olive oil with inferior products.
While it is true olive oil production in Italy, Tunisia, Greece, California and others have been impacted by blight or significant temperature swings, the larger picture of olive oil production globally is far from dire.
Here are 5 things to keep in mind when consider when reaching for your next bottle of olive oil in the grocery store:-
- Global olive oil production is actually up. We monitor global harvests closely and we have observed that the decrease worldwide has been quite small. When you compare the 2018 crop to the rolling 5 year average, production in the EU is actually up by 4% and globally by 2%. Lower than expected yield in Italy has been offset by production in Spain, which produced over 1.5 million tons in 2018, a 25% increase from 2017. This is consistent trends across the industry; lower crop yield in one corner of Europe or North America does not indicate a larger, imminent shortage.
- Olive farmers are well versed in the cultivation of this alternate bearing fruit. Production typically moves through a biennial cycle with low yield years offset by high ones. Farmers will often employ specific techniques to mitigate these swings and ensure that they are able to produce consistently.
- European and North American brands alike import oils from multiple countries. Many brands found in supermarkets are blended from olive oil from more than one country. (Pro tip, check the label on the back of the bottle to see where you olive oil comes from). Olive oil companies will simply buy from other countries with greater availability and better pricing. This is a common practice throughout the industry. More