Greek Olive Oil Sector Expecting Big Drop in 2019 Production

(Photo by Eurokinissi/Yiannis Panagopoulos)

Production and exports of one of Greece’s most treasured, and under-marketed commodities, olive oil, could see big declines in 2019 because of the effects of weather, a fall in quality and higher prices turning off international buyers.

Initial estimates indicate that the fall in production could hit as much as 50 percent in some regions, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki, with the President of a national association of olive oil exporters, Grigoris Antoniadis, forecasting a lesser haul of about 140,000 tons, cut because of heavy rainfall and aging trees.

“When production is up one year, and down the next, the reason is the tree’s output capacity… a tree cannot produce successive good harvests,” he said. Producers complained of inadequate measures to combat the Xylella Fastidiosa bacteria that attacks olive oil trees.

International buyers have been turning down deals with Greek table olive companies, said Olive Oil Times, indicating a drop in exports so far this year at some 15 percent.

Low output, setbacks in quality and higher prices are leading foreign buyers to look elsewhere, particularly Egypt and Turkey the site said with Greece again failing to capitalize on one of its best and most famous products, renowned worldwide for quality.

There are problems of quality for growers of the Kalamon variety due to the increased damage by the olive fruit fly in Greece, the report said, with the government not responding to calls to protect the trees.