Both olive oil production and consumption decreased on a global scale in the 2016/17 season, the latest report by the International Olive Council (IOC) says.
Worldwide production shrank 20%, with Europe the hardest-hit single region, suffering a 25% production decrease, the Olive Oil Times wrote on 11 December.
The entire Mediterranean region struggled with an exceptionally hot and dry summer, which caused production dips in practically all countries in the area, including Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Slovenia and Spain.
“Meteorological factors can affect final harvest,” said Rodrigo Sanchez Haro, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development for the Spanish olive oil producing region Andalusia.
“It is not yet possible to know how many olives will be left uncollected due to insufficient rain or quality,” he added.
The rainless summer was felt also in North Africa and Middle East, where total production dropped by 10%, with Jordan (-32%), Tunisia (-29%), Israel (-17%), Morocco (-15%) and Libya (-11%) taking the largest brunt of the impact.
In some Mediterranean countries, however, production increased significantly, including Egypt at 21%, Turkey at 18% and Lebanon at 9%.
Olive oil consumption slumped 6% worldwide as well, with the largest regional decrease in Europe, where olive oil use dropped by 12%.
Greece, France and Italy saw the steepest decreases and the IOC said the USA and Canada also experienced consumption dips.
Brazil, China and Turkey, on the other hand, increased their consumption and IOC predicted that China’s growing middle class would begin to seek higher quality foodstuffs from abroad, which would lead to even higher olive oil consumption in the country.
In the 2017/18 season, IOC expected consumption to rebound by 5% while global production was seen to be up 14%, Olive Oil Times wrote.
EU nations were expected to lead the growth, with Italy increasing production by 76%, Greece by 54% and Portugal by 14%.
Large increases were expected elsewhere as well, including Tunisia at 120%, Argentina at 74%, Turkey at 62% and Morocco at 27%.