Italy’s worst drought in 70 years is expected to impact olive oil production in the country, Olive Oil Times reported.
Kyle Holland, an analyst at market research group Mintec, was quoted by The Guardian on 13 July as saying that some market sources had forecast that Italian production of olive oil could be between 20%-30% down on last year.
There could be a “substantial dent in global supply” of the oil as hot and dry weather in Spain was expected to reduce crops there by up to 15%, he said.
“We are already seeing some olive trees producing no fruit, which only happens when soil moisture levels are critically low,” Holland said.
“According to industry contacts, the lower production and, therefore, limited supply of olive oil is likely to cause prices to increase in the coming months.”
Soaring temperatures have coincided with the outbreak of several wildfires across Italy, according to a report by the Irish Independent. Italy’s national fire service said it had received calls to 32,921 wildfires between 15-21 June, with the number of fires 4,040 higher than in the same period last year.
In Greece, local officials estimated that between 30,000 to 40,000 trees were destroyed in fires that swept through some of the country’s oldest olive groves, Olive Oil Times reported.
One of the oldest and largest olive groves in Greece, the Amfissa olive grove, in the province of Fokida, was devastated by a fire, which destroyed large areas of agricultural land, including thousands of olive trees, the 11 July report said.
More than 150 firefighters backed by 11 water-bombing aircraft and seven helicopters battled to contain the fire at the ancient olive grove, which comprised around 1.2M olive trees, the Athens-Macedonian News Agency reported.
A fire in 2013 had destroyed 50,000 olive trees at Amfissa, Olive Oil Times wrote, when 4,000ha of land was razed.
“Agriculture in our area is almost exclusively olive-based,” Panayiotis Tagkalis, the mayor of Delphi was quoted as saying.
“My olive trees near the Chrisso village were not impacted, but the fire dealt a major blow to other producers who had suffered severe damages in the 2013 fire. Their decade-long struggle to revive their olive groves has been rendered futile with the new disaster.”
Persistent heat waves have hit parts of Europe in June and July causing wildfires, evacuations and heat-related deaths.
Sweltering temperatures hit much of Western Europe on 19 July as an intense heatwave headed north, according to a BBC report on the same day.
Extreme heat warnings were issued in France and record July temperatures were reported in the Netherlands, the report said, and wildfires in France, Portugal, Spain and Greece had forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes.
In Spain and Portugal, more than 1,000 deaths have been attributed to the heat, according to the report.
Heatwaves have become more frequent, more intense, and were lasting longer due to climate change, the BBC wrote.