AUCTION - The Big Olive Processing Plant

Italian Farmers, Producers Confirm Production Rebound

Olive oil production for the 2023-24 crop year was bolstered by strong harvests in the south.

According to the latest update from the European Commission, Italian olive oil production is expected to reach 324,000 tons in the 2023-24 crop year.

Due to poor harvests in Spain and Greece, Italy is anticipated to produce one-third of Europe’s olive oil this year. Furthermore, an estimated 75 percent of the country’s production meets the extra virgin olive oil grade.

The commission figures also confirm expectations that Italian producers reported to Olive Oil Times in October, just as the harvest was underway.

The fruitful harvest will also replenish olive oil stocks in the country. According to the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forests, Italian extra virgin olive oil storage is now more than 200,000 tons, far exceeding the 96,000 tons reported in October.

Overall, Italian stocks of all grades of olive oil reached 269,574 tons at the end of January, a 14 percent increase from December 2023. Organic olive oil stocks account for 40,552 tons.

Still, olive oil stocks remain 14.5 percent lower than at the same period of the previous year.

While olive oil production reached the previous decade’s average in 2023-24, yields varied enormously among regions.

Excessive rainfall and extreme weather events, such as repeated heatwaves, diminished production in much of central and northern Italy, with the southern regions faring much better.

In the northern region of Lombardy, growers faced some of the harshest climatic conditions.

“We did not have anything to harvest,” Paul Willan, owner of Roveglio, told Olive Oil Times.

“We lost the whole production because of three devastating hailstorms. No production on more than 1,000 olive trees.”

Those extreme events were felt both in the country and in the cities. “In Como, a city [not far from Roveglio’s farm], the hail was so large that it broke glass and damaged photovoltaic panels,” Willan said.

“On top of that, hailstorms brought infections from Pseudomonas savastanoi, which is spreading across the whole area,” he added about the bacterium responsible for the olive knot disease.

In the northeastern region of Veneto, olive oil yields are reported to be slightly better than elsewhere in northern Italy.

“We had a normal harvest this year, and we are very happy with the quality,” Johannes Pan, marketing manager of Paneolio, told Olive Oil Times. “The volume was normal compared to previous years.”

However, he warned that the enduring drought experienced in the region means olive oil production has “become more and more difficult every year. The effort required to achieve good results is becoming ever greater.”

“It is becoming increasingly difficult to rely on weather forecasts, and without technical support, many things in agriculture would probably no longer be possible as they were ten years ago,” Pan added.

On the opposite side of northern Italy, growers in Liguria, known for their Taggiasca olives, also lamented the effects of the ongoing dry climate. More