- WORLD OLIVE OIL MARKET – 2014/15 Imports of olive oil by a number of countries under customs heading 15.09 and of olive pomace oil under customs heading 15.10 in the first nine months of the 2014/15 crop year (October 2014–June 2015) are reported in the table below. The data...
WORLD OLIVE OIL MARKET – 2014/15
Imports of olive oil by a number of countries under customs heading 15.09 and of olive pomace oil under customs heading 15.10 in the first nine months of the 2014/15 crop year (October 2014–June 2015) are reported in the table below. The data reveal year-on-year import increases of +12 pc in Japan with strong growth from March 2015. US imports remain stable after seeing decreases in March and April followed by increases in May and June. Imports by China likewise hold steady. On the contrary, imports have being going constantly downwards in Australia (−16 pc as of November 2014), Canada (−12 pc) and Brazil (-4 pc), which recorded sharp decreases in May and June. Lastly, through the eight-month period from October 2015 to May 2015, imports were lower in Russia (−26 pc), prompted by a switch of trend in December 2014.
The June 2015 data were not available for the EU at the time of publication but the figures for the first eight months of 2014/15 show an increase of 6 pc in intra-EU acquisitions and 253 pc in extra-EU imports compared with the same period a season earlier. Owing to the heavy drop in output in Spain and Italy, extra-EU imports by both countries soared, particularly imports from Tunisia (+1270 pc and +326 pc, respectively) compared with a season earlier. As reported in the previous issue of this newsletter, this upward movement began in December 2014 even before the change in the EU regulation on the tariff quota at zero-rate duty, a fact connected with the large climb in Tunisian production in the current 2014/15 crop year.
WORLD TABLE OLIVE MARKET – 2014/15
In the first nine months of the 2014/15 crop year, i.e. from October 2014 to June 2015, table olive imports (see next table) were higher in the United States (+14 pc) and Brazil (+2 pc) than in the same period a year earlier. In the case of Australia, imports have moved in the opposite direction, dropping by 13 pc since November 2014. The same applies to Canada (−1 pc). Data for Russia are only available for the eight months from October 2014 to May 2015 and show a constant drop in imports (−14 pc since December 2014).
At the time of publication, the data for June 2015 were not available for the EU but in the first eight months of the 2014/15 season, both intra-EU acquisitions and extra-EU imports went up by 5 pc versus the same period of 2013/14.VN:F [1.9.22_1171]VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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- Although too many variables are still in play, world olive oil production in 2015–2016 looks set to be higher than in 2014/15 but lower than in 2013/14. Latest forecasts assess world olive oil production in 2015/16 at more than 2 500 000 t, placing it in between the levels...
Although too many variables are still in play, world olive oil production in 2015–2016 looks set to be higher than in 2014/15 but lower than in 2013/14. Latest forecasts assess world olive oil production in 2015/16 at more than 2 500 000 t, placing it in between the levels of 2014/15 (2 287 000 t) and 2013/14 (3 244 000 t).
Heavy uncertainty hangs over the olive oil crop in Spain for 2015/16. Even so, it is expected to be more than 40 pc higher than in 2014/15. The past 12 months have seen complicated weather conditions and record temperatures during key phenological stages of the olive, says José María Penco, an agronomist with AEMO, the Spanish Association of Olive Municipalities. Coupled with a shortage of rainfall during the water year soon to end, these factors have generated uncertainty, particularly so in rainfed orchards, which initially looked poised to get off to a good start after the previous restful “off” year.
There are two approaches to predicting the next harvest, explains Penco. One is to conduct visual inspections and fruit counts on the ground in olive orchards. The other is to analyse the agro-climatic variables that affect fruit development from flowering until early September.
The AEMO expert confesses he has neither the means nor sufficient data for the field approach. For harvest predictions to be reliable, technical officers have to be strategically placed around the country and to apply a stringent measurement methodology. For the time being, he says, only the Regional Government of Andalusia has these means but it has not yet published any data.
In his opinion, all that can be said is that up to the end of July there was a huge difference between irrigated and rainfed olive orchards and large variations between areas, and even between farms, depending on how advanced flowering was when temperatures hit record levels in May. Going by the great heterogeneity among orchards on the ground, it can only be asserted that there will not be a bumper olive oil crop in 2015/16 although the harvest will be bigger than last season.
The second forecasting approach is very complex because numerous variables are involved and they are not uniform in all orchards. Even so, Penco outlines the most important milestones in the decisive phenological stages.
Starting conditions: Last season, Spain produced only 835 000 t of olive oil when its orchards have the potential to produce up to 1 800 000 t. This augurs well for the crop in 2015/16 because the olive’s alternate bearing pattern, particularly in rainfed orchards, means that an “off” year is followed by an “on” year with abundant flowering.
Precipitation: Mean precipitation in Spain’s olive growing areas is down by 30 pc, in other words the water year has been dry. Rainfall was low in the autumn-winter of 2014 and this year’s spring was quite dry too. As a result, soil moisture is low or even very low in some areas. All eyes will be trained on the rainfall in late summer and early autumn, which is vital for oil formation and the completion of fruit growth.
Temperatures: Penco mentions two crucial moments:
– Around 12 May, when the trees were flowering, temperatures rose to all-time highs in most of Andalusia’s olive orchards. The temperatures of close to 40º C impacted differently on districts, depending on whether or not the trees were in full bloom. Damage was on a smaller scale when the olive fruits had been set for at least 15 days. This was the case in areas such as Cadiz, Seville or southern Cordoba where this process takes place earlier. However, in Jaen, the hub of Andalusian olive cultivation, air pollen density coincided fully with a week of maximum temperatures (see chart on the right). So, temperature damage during flowering has been dissimilar, even inside the same province, depending on the phenological stage of the flowers/olive fruits.
Year2015Period1981-2010Maximuntemperaturesin May, byday(oC)Max. Temperature(oC)POLLENLEVEL/M3OLEACEAE –
– Weather was very harsh in areas of southern Spain in the month of July when temperatures of 40º C were recorded for more than 20 days, and longer in some cases. This was particularly harmful to the olives that had not yet completed the stone hardening stage and which withered before cell proliferation was over. Some of this fruit has fallen from the trees; the rest remains on the trees but has fewer oil-forming cells. Here again a distinction has to be made between rainfed and irrigated olive orchards and the phenological stage reached on each orchard at the beginning of July.
In short, concludes the AEMO technical officer, the forecasts for the next olive oil harvest are shrouded in uncertainty with many, complex variables in play. Some work in favour of the harvest but most –the weather variables – work against it. Depending on precipitation in the month of September, Penco reckons that olive oil production will reach 1 200 000 t at the most. It is also worth noting that the 2015/16 season will open with stocks at one of their lowest levels. Market concern is translating into high prices (see prices section). This situation is aggravated by the weakness of the euro vis-à-vis the dollar. If it persists, it will lead to another year where world consumption goes down. This is not good news because winning back consumers always takes time whereas a bumper world crop can appear on the scene all of a sudden.VN:F [1.9.22_1171]VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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- The Australian olive industry has developed rapidly since the early 2000s and one of the biggest innovations has been the mechanization of harvesting. Boundary Bend Victoria production manager, Ryan Norton, has spent the past 15 years helping to build Cobram Estate in to one...
The Australian olive industry has developed rapidly since the early 2000s and one of the biggest innovations has been the mechanization of harvesting.
Boundary Bend Victoria production manager, Ryan Norton, has spent the past 15 years helping to build Cobram Estate in to one of the nation’s largest olive oil producers.
He said the development of the Colossus harvesters has changed the Australian olive oil industry and means the fruit is processed more quickly, leading to a fresher oil.
“It was very small and just developing, back when we started you really couldn’t call it an industry,” he said.
“Spain and Italy and European countries generally harvest by hand or with shakers and we’ve developed, in conjunction with Argentina, the Colossus harvester which has allowed us to deliver fruit to the processor in its freshest state.
“We knew that we couldn’t harvest by hand, that we just weren’t going to be price competitive if we harvested by hand.”
First harvest fraught with breakdowns
The Colossus harvesters were originally built in Argentina from old coffee harvesters and Mr Norton said the machinery was originally far from perfect.
I think the first colossus harvester we harvested with we got around about six hours of effective picking time in 24 hours.
Mr Norton said adapting the harvesters was a collaborative effort with other staff and the founders of Boundary Bend.
He said making the harvesters viable was a challenge and incredibly frustrating at times, but it had been worth it.
“When we brought it [the Colossus harvester] back to Australia it took many hours of hard work,” he said.
“I think the first Colossus harvester we harvested with, we got around about six hours of effective picking time in 24 hours.
“Now 15 years later we are harvesting around 22 hours of effective picking time.
“We’re picking around about four to five tons an hour out of each harvester, which is significant when you look at a typical hand harvester, or person picking by hand can pick around about 250 kilos a day.
“It guarantees our consumer the freshest product, something that when harvesting by hand you can’t really guarantee.”
Mr. Norton has been recognized for his contribution to the olive oil industry with a nomination as a 2015 Farmer of the Year Award finalist.
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