Spain’s Andalusia Olive Growers See Crop Below Official Outlook

Olive-oil production in Andalusia, Spain’s main growing region, will be less than the regional government predicts as late ripening and a lack of rain cut yields, a local branch of young farmers’ group Asaja said.

The olive harvest in Spain’s southern-most region started several weeks late as a lack of rain delayed ripening, with the fruit more susceptible to frost damage and producing less oil, Asaja Cordoba wrote in an online statement today. The group called on the regional government to cut its outlook.

Andalusia in October forecast the region’s farmers would gather 6.24 million metric tons of olives in 2013-14, with production back to a normal level after falling more than 60 percent due to drought last year. Based on the crop, the region predicts olive oil volume of 1.31 million tons, with all of Spain producing 1.61 million tons of the edible oil.

“The period of drought we’re undergoing, combined with low temperatures, is already having its effect on the olive harvest,” Asaja Cordoba wrote. “The campaign will not be as big as predicted. Fewer kilos of olives are being harvested.”

Spain is the world’s biggest exporter of olive oil, used in cooking and salad dressings. Olive-oil futures have slumped 28 percent this year to 1,835 euros ($2,507) a ton on the Mercado de Futuros del Aceite de Oliva in Jaen, Spain, on an outlook for bigger production, and are down 36 percent from a Feb. 8 peak.

The Andalusia region’s preliminary forecast had an “immediate” effect on olive-oil prices, Asaja wrote.

“This is why Asaja Cordoba is asking the government to rectify the outlook to take into account the actual situation in this olive-oil season, in that the drought will result in major losses,” the group said.

Olive oil for January delivery fell 1.2 percent in Jaen on Oct. 21, the day Andalusia published its 2013-14 outlook, and another 1.9 percent the next day.

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