We, at Haworth’s, will NOT be producing or buying olive oil at all in 2015.
The harvest this year – November/December 2014 is not good – in fact throughout Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, Croatia and much of the mediterranean the olive harvest is a disaster. Volumes are substantially down and the Communes in many areas of Italy are recommending NOT to pick the olives this year and indeed many of the frantoios (olive mills) are not opening at all or are open for only a few hours. The problem this year has been the weather. Olives need lots of sun to reach their full potential but last summer saw lots of wet weather across Europe providing ideal conditions for the olive fly (Dacus oleae) and the olive moth to multiply and infest the olive fruit.
Just as serious as the loss of the olive fruit and therefore the olive oil, is the lower quality of the oil that has been produced from the fruit which has not been affected but harvested and pressed as usual.
In Southern Spain – in a major olive growing area around Andalucia – there has been another problem – a drought – causing huge difficulties for growers whilst in Italy it is the olive fly that has caused the oil shortage. In Puglia in the south of Italy it is the bacteria Xylella fastidiosa. There is no cure for this and the only solution is to burn the infected trees to stop the bacteria spreading. Thousands of olive trees in Puglia have already been burned so there is even less oil this year AND also for the next few years.
The cost of Extra Virgin Olive Oil has already doubled in the last few weeks (Nov 2014) and oil production in Italy is likely to be down by some 40% after the present dismal harvest. Spain will not be able to make up for Italy’s losses by exporting as much to Italy as they usually do, as they have big shortages of their own – particularly in the south owing to a drought in Andalucia.
Greece and Turkey have largely been unaffected by the weather, olive fly, blight etc. so their production should be at normal levels but in general the price of good olive oil will be considerably more expensive next year (2015) – if you can get good EVO oil at all. Also consumers must be even more diligent next year to read bottle labels carefully. Look for harvest dates so that you are not buying old oil from a long time ago. The fraudsters are out there – just waiting for a shortage and an opportunity like this.
We, at Haworth’s, will NOT be producing or buying olive oil at all in 2015. Like many producers in Tuscany we will not sell oil of dubious quality and doubtful origin. We only want to sell good quality EVO oil from our own area around Immoglie, after full laboratory testing and at a reasonable price. So we will take a year off from oil sales until our next harvest this time next year in November/December 2015. So buy your oil now while you can and while our limited stocks of the last excellent olive harvest are still available.
J Alan Haworth.