The many chal­lenges olive oil pro­duc­ers are cur­rently fac­ing in Southern Italy have reached a new high: offi­cial data show a rel­e­vant slow­down in olive oil export from the Puglia region in the first three months of the year.

ISTAT, the National Institute of Statistics, esti­mated exports in the period had fallen by 10.4 per­cent com­pared to the same period last year. Those data are even more rel­e­vant con­sid­er­ing that Puglia, with its 60 mil­lion olive trees, is by far the lead­ing Italian region in terms of olive oil out­put.

Although they do not come as a sur­prise given the con­di­tions of the inter­na­tional mar­ket in the COVID-19 era, the new fig­ures alarm grow­ers.

The Apulian branch of the farm­ers asso­ci­a­tion Coldiretti warned that the export col­lapse adds to an already dire sce­nario for sales and prices.

Coldiretti noted that olive oil stor­age facil­i­ties in Puglia are full. According to the offi­cial data released by the Ministry of Agriculture spe­cial obser­va­tory on olive oil, more than 70 mil­lion liters of extra vir­gin olive oil are cur­rently stored — a 128 ‑per­cent increase over last year.

Savino Muraglia, Coldiretti Puglia’s pres­i­dent, blamed the COVID-19 lock­down for restau­rants and food venues for the sky­rock­et­ing stor­age.

Muraglia called for new infor­ma­tive and cul­tural cam­paigns both on regional and national lev­els that in the next five…

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