Not much to say during a year lost to the pandemic restrictions and concerns. We had to put our Farmers Market business on hold; same with our bulk sales of EVOO to colleges and universities.
But olives produced their oil, as they do every year. They were affected by the pandemic to the extent that harvest laborers were in short supply, during a year when global consumption exceeded production. Olive orchard output was defined by its cyclical nature and climatic conditions.
Global production reached 3 million tons and global demand climbed to 3.2 million tons. Supply and demand dynamics pushed the Mediterranean Basin auction prices for EVOO exceeding $4.00, on par with 2017-18 prices.
Spain with 1.54 million, Greece with 265,000 surpassing Italy with 255,000 tons, remain the top three, followed by Turkey, Morocco and an emerging Portugal. The numbers sustain the Italian paradox of exporting almost its entire production, while importing what Italians consume. What is labeled “Made in Italy” raises questions of product origin and integrity.
Surprisingly and, despite the 25% tariff imposed on olive oil import from certain EU countries, the US, who produced only 16,000 tons last year, saw record imports of Olive Oil in 2020. They reached 403,619 tons, a 17.5% increase over the previous season and 32% in just the last 3 years. Amazingly, 72% of US imports were Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Another record showing that the American palate is becoming selective and appreciative of its dietary value.
This late spring frost that damaged blossoms will hurt next year’s harvest, raising prices further.