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Olive oil production in the European Union (EU) is expected to drop by 25% in 2022/23, according to the European Commission (EC)’s latest forecasts reported by Olive Oil Times.

According to the EC’s short-term agricultural outlook report, olive oil production in the EU is expected to fall to 1.7M tonnes in the 2022/23 crop year.

However, the report’s forecasts were too pessimistic, according to some involved in the trade.

“The EU projections about the drop in European olive oil production seem way too negative when compared to our estimates,” Anna Cane, president of the Italian Association of the Edible Oil Industry’s (Assitol) olive oil group, was quoted as saying in the 17 October report.

This year’s olive oil yield represents a 25% drop compared to last year, according to the report, and is 20% below the rolling five-year average.

Production in Spain and Italy was expected to fall by 30%.

In Portugal, officials had noted that the irrigated super-high-density olive groves of Alentejo had been less affected by the Iberian Peninsula’s ongoing drought, the report said. However, production in the country was expected to be 40% lower than last year.

According to the EC’s forecasts, olive oil volumes will fall in all producing countries, with the exception of Greece.

“The drought that enveloped significant areas in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and portions of North Africa since last winter did not harm the main Greek production areas,” Vasilios Frantzolas, an olive oil taster and quality consultant, told Olive Oil Times.

Greece had experienced similar problems with drought and wildfires in the 2021/22 crop year, Frantzolas added.

“In August this year, instead, we had generally moderate temperatures,” he said. “Only in a few areas, some higher temperatures might have impacted production by damaging the flowering.”

“The olive oil yield in Greece is considered abundant when it reaches 300,000 tonnes,” he added. “Talking with olive growers and millers in several areas, the estimate for the current season is between 270,000 and 285,000 tonnes of olive oil, with an estimated 100,000 [tonnes] coming from Crete, which produced approximately 60,000 tonnes last year.”

In contrast, southern and western Europe had faced one of the hottest summers on record, with heatwaves and arid weather, which had stunted the development of olive trees at critical moments, Olive Oil Times wrote.