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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

Olive Oil Industry Says Extreme Heat Also Zapping Other Crops

There is a crisis brewing in the olive oil industry.


Photo Insert: The scorching temperatures that have swept southern Europe this summer are very bad news for olive trees, with olive oil industry experts warning of skyrocketing prices and potential shortages.


The scorching temperatures that have swept southern Europe this summer are not only claiming lives and priming the land for devastating wildfires — they’re also very bad news for olive trees, with olive oil industry experts warning of skyrocketing prices and potential shortages, Laura Paddison reported for CNN.

The International Olive Council has stopped short of calling the situation in the industry a crisis, but a spokesperson said “We are facing a complex situation as a consequence of climate change.”



Globally, olive oil production is predicted to drop 20% between October 2022 and September 2023, the spokesperson told Laura Paddington of CNN.


How much this will affect consumers is unclear. As prices push upward, the big question will be “Do consumers continue to buy olive oil at these prices or do we see switches [to other oils],” Kyle Holland, an oils and oilseeds expert at Mintec, argued.


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Of course, the problem extreme heat poses to food is much broader. “It’s getting to the stage where the concerns are significant not just for olive oil but for a lot of crops,” Holland said.

Extreme heat is the climate impact that crops are most vulnerable to, mainly because it causes water stress, said Corey Lesk, a climate researcher at Dartmouth College. “Crops are stuck between a thirsty atmosphere and dry soils, which can lead to lasting damages,” he told CNN.


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In Italy, which has been buffeted by heat, droughts, and floods this summer, fruit crops have been particularly hard hit, said Lorenzo Bazzana, economic manager for the Italian farmers association, Coldiretti.


The cherry harvest is down by about 60%, peaches, and nectarines are estimated to be down by around 30%, and apricots by 20%, Bazzana told CNN. Tomatoes are also in trouble, damaged by hail and scorched by the sun.


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“We’re on the precipice of game-changing risks,” Lesk said, “and it’s far from obvious that these won’t push the global food system over the edge, certainly in 50 years, but maybe even in five to 10 at this rate.”





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