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Bad weather devastates Italian olive oil crop


Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Sunday, December 7, 2014, 12:24 PM - Olive oil aficionados, if you won't accept anything less than Italian, this is a bad year for you.

Italy's La Repubblica newspaper has officially declared 2014 the "black" year for the industry, thanks to lousy weather that has helped destroy crops.

The country's output is down 37 per cent compared to 2013, and the decline is 45 per cent in the prime producing areas of Tuscany and Umbria. Some growers have called it the worst year in living memory.

La Repubblica says excessive heat in the spring and heavy summer rains led to higher olive fruit fly numbers, devastating output.

It's not just Italy. Spain, an olive oil industry giant, is also in bad shape. After poor rainfall in producing regions in Andalucia, 2014's output may be half of last year's record numbers, according to Bloomberg.

Globally, production is projected to fall to 2.87 million tons, down from 3.44 million last season. Most European producers are either in decline, or stable, but the upside is that output in nearby alternative sources like Greece and Tunisia is actually on the rise, though not enough to reverse the drop.

Country 2013/14 (1,000 tons) 2014/2015 (1,000 tons)
Spain 1,775.8 825.7
Italy 461.2 302.5
Greece 131.9 300.0
Portugal 91.6 90.0
Tunisia 70 260

Source: International Olive Oil Council.

What that means for consumers in Canada and the United States is that the good stuff may be harder to find, and what is there will likelier be pricier.

La Repubblica and the LA Times are also warning buyers to beware of fraud or substitute products, so it's best to check the label before you buy.

Thumbnail Image: U.S. Department of Agriculture. License.

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