Global olive oil production will be lower than consumption in the 2020 season, Olive Oil Times reported on 27 October from Spanish news agency COPE’s coverage of a webinar on the sector.

Current estimates suggested production would be around 3.11M tonnes of olive oil with consumption forecast at 3.14M tonnes, COPE quoted international consultant Juan Vilar as saying at the Andalusian webinar.

In addition, price increases have been seen in all categories and this shows that although a change in strategy is necessary, it is a ball of oxygen for the traditional olive grove, which accounts for 70% of the harvest and that, without a doubt, has lived through some difficult times,” Vilar said.

Vilar noted there was also a growing role around the world for the ‘modern olive grove’, which he said now accounted for 40% of all olive oil produced. These numbers revealed a ‘trending change and a reality which is constantly growing’.

The growing popularity of olive farming in five continents had led to a total of 11.5M ha dedicated to olive trees, he added, and those numbers had pushed worldwide production to exceed 3M tonnes.

Worldwide production for the current season would be 3.4% lower than last year, a drop he said was mostly due to the reduced yield in a number of Mediterranean countries including Italy (270,000 tonnes), Greece (240,000), Morocco (140,000), Tunisia (130,000), and Portugal (120,000).

According to Vilar, the decline in production in some Mediterranean countries was due to the typical alternating seasons.

The only exception to the downward trend was Spain, where production was set to reach 1.6-1.7M tonnes, as reported by the local magazine Agrònoma.

Spain’s ability to strengthen its position was due to strong investments in modern farming and specific new technologies, according to Vilar.

“Spain has been able to adequately combine its traditional knowledge of the crop with new technologies, becoming the world’s largest producer of olive oils, since more than half ­- 52% - of the oils produced in the five continents will be of Spanish origin,” he said.

The consultant explained how olive oil prices, which had been in steady decline recently, now seemed close to a change in trend.