a precious tradition faces seasonal challenges
As the olive harvest is in full swing, it is an opportunity to come together and enjoy each other’s company in an idyllic environment. Surrounded by hills and centuries-old trees, one can breathe in the same pronounced aromas of freshly grown olives that were possible even hundreds of years ago. Once the olives are pressed, this precious tradition continues throughout the season as bottles of the new oil are offered to customers, friends and family.
However, in many parts of Italy olive oil will perform much worse than in previous years. For example, this year the northern regions are expected to experience an average drop of 30 percent in production and, in the most unfortunate circumstances, to see even a 70 percent drop. While the geography and regions of different olive oil productions still show variability, regions in central Italy are likely to follow similar trends to those in the north. Cesare Coda Nunziante, president of the Chianti Rufina Consortium as well as owner and CEO of the Colognole wine and olive estate, predicted that the yield in his region would experience a decrease of about 40 to 50 percent.
External factors, such as weather conditions, greatly influence the quality and quantity of an olive harvest. Strong winds, hail, or frequent rains can cause olive trees to fall from their branches. Here in Florence, we all remember the heavy rains in May, when the Arno threatened to overflow. These heavy showers knocked the flowers off the trees, resulting in fewer remaining buds that could turn into olives. In addition, prolonged droughts this summer are said to have stunted the growth of olives, which in many cases grew less than usual. As a result, expectations for the upcoming harvest are that it will be significantly lower than in previous seasons.
Coda Nunziante explained that the drop in yield will lead to an average drop in profits of around 30% for olive oil producers (compared to the average for the past three years). However, he added that it is not wise to consider just this figure as different regions have been affected to varying degrees. For example, landowners in lower elevation areas had more difficulty than those in higher hills or mountains. ATherefore, the decline in profits this year ranges from as little as 20 to 70 percent. Regarding the prices of sfuso (wholesale units of olive oil) are concerned, there should be a slight increase in the price of Tuscan oil between 5 and 15 percent. The increase for store-bought olive oil is expected to be similar to these numbers. Nunziante reminded us that although Tuscany is considered the gold standard for the quality of olive oil in Italy, the southern regions, such as Sicily and Puglia, produce quantities of oil. much larger olive.
The seasonal olive harvests in Tuscany are a unique reminder of Florence’s seasonal change. It’s a time when people take off their light sweaters to put on coats and hats and replenish their supply of discounted olive oil for friends and family. Although abnormal weather conditions have caused hardship for our local producers and a slight shortage of this staple food across the country this season, her joint pickings will continue and you will still hopefully have copious amounts of food. locally made fresh extra virgin olive oil to store your shelves.
This article was written by Bernardo Petochi and Jacques Bach, students at the International School of Florence.