Portugal, the eighth largest olive oil producer in the world, is expected to have a drop in production in the 2020/2021 olive campaign compared to the previous one and produce 100 tons, according to the largest national association in the sector.
The prospects for production in Portugal in the 2020/2021 olive growing campaign, which started in the middle of this month, point to 100 tons of olive oil, Gonçalo de Almeida Simões, executive director of Olivum - Southern Olive Growers Association, told Lusa today. .
This is a “decrease of 40 thousand tons” in relation to the 2019/2020 campaign, when Portugal produced 140 thousand tons and “broke the record” of national oil production “of the last 80 years”, he stressed.
The Alentejo, the Portuguese region that produces the most olive oil and which represents about 75% of the national production, should also register a decrease and produce 75 thousand tons of oil in the 2020/2021 campaign, 25 thousand tons less than the 100 thousand produced in the previous one, he estimated.
According to the official, "the numbers are not a surprise for the sector" and the expected decrease in olive oil production in the 2020/2021 olive campaign "is normal", because the olive grove, being a permanent crop, "obeys a logic of harvest and against harvest ”.
In other words, after a campaign of high production of olives and oil, as was the previous one in 2019/2020, "it is normal that in the following campaign", in the case of the current one in 2020/2021, there is less production, he explained.
Despite the decrease in olive oil production in quantitative terms, "it will be a good campaign" and "the expectation, in terms of quality, is that 95% of the oil produced in Portugal remains virgin and extra virgin".
In this respect, he stressed, Portugal is the largest producer of extra virgin and virgin olive oil on the world market, followed by, tied for second place, Spain and Italy, where “only 70%” of the oil produced is extra virgin and virgin.
According to Gonçalo de Almeida Simões, the “positive data” in the 2020/2021 olive growing campaign is that forecasts point to a “7% increase in olive oil consumption worldwide, which translates into an inversion of the trend of recent years” .
According to Olivum, Portugal is currently the seventh largest olive producer in the world, the eighth largest producer of olive oil and the ninth country with the largest olive grove area.
Asked by Lusa about whether the covid-19 pandemic is affecting the 2020/2021 olive campaign, namely in terms of hiring labor to harvest olives, Gonçalo de Almeida Simões replied that it was not.
“This year's campaigns to harvest grapes, almonds and red fruits have already been carried out and things have gone well in this chapter [labor] and it is estimated that they also run in the olive growing campaign,” he said.
Olivum recalls that Portugal has guaranteed self-sufficiency in olive oil since 2014 and the investment in the olive sector has allowed the country to move from production of 80 thousand tons that year to 140 thousand tons in 2019.
Olive oil companies operating in Portugal are "mostly Portuguese" and the sector has managed to attract foreign investment and from several countries, such as Spain, England, Chile, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and Denmark.
Currently, Olivum, which claims to be “the largest association of olive growers and mills” in Portugal, has 100 members, representing 300 farms, which occupy 40 hectares of olive groves, most in Alentejo, but also some in Ribatejo, and 10 mills.