Thursday, 3 November 2011

Never mind the butter mountain, now there's an olive one

(c) Alberto Bullrich 2011
ANDALUCÍA Just as the EU is debating the much maligned Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), there is news of a downturn in the eating olive sector, the harvest of whichis just getting under way. On the one hand, consumer indexes are down by about 17% year on year. Exports have almost come to a stop after a record in 2010. The reason is that California's olive production has recovered after a disastrous 2010 season. The problem is made worse by the fact that there is a stock of some 380,000 tons, added to this years expected crop of 522,000 tons - a mountain of olives. The problem is that if sales continue their present low trend of a mere 46,000 tons a month, there could easily be enough for 21 months. This says the industry, could distort the market even further and cause prices to come down, something they say would make it unsustainable, as prices are those of 35  years ago at present. But there are some mitigating circumstances, too.>>>
Table olives, as opposed to those used for oil, need several months of preparation before coming on the market. That's the green ones, which are marinated in a variety of ways depending on the type of olive. Black olives only need 10 to 15 days.

Agricultural organizations are advising producers of the hojiblanca variety to send their crops to the mills for oil production. This, says, José Vázquez of Asaja, could have some 100,000 tons of the table olive market. He adds athat, while the olive oil market is also going through a significant downturn, prices there are better than the table sector. In some cases, as when the harvest is small, there are those who might prefer to leave the fruit on the tree.

"There is only one way out," says Vázquez, "either we produce less or we sell more."

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