Italy’s olive oil production drops by a quarter as ‘tree leprosy’ takes toll | World news

Italy, the world’s second-largest exporter of olive oil, has seen output drop by a quarter this year, an agricultural lobby said, due to bad weather and a deadly bacteria.

Italian production for 2020 is estimated at 270,000 tonnes, down 26% from 2019 due to a sharp drop in output in the southern Puglia region, which usually accounts for almost half of the country’s olive oil, the farming lobby Confagricoltura said in a statement on Friday.

Holding about 15% of the world market, Italy this year has suffered rapidly changing weather, hailstorms in the south and drought, while the Xylella bacteria has devastated most of the olive groves in the Salento region of Puglia.

Known as “olive tree leprosy”, the bacteria has ravaged orchards in southern Europe.

The situation is better, both in terms of quality and quantity, in the centre-north regions, Confagricoltura said, although those areas account for only 20% of total production.

Most of Italy’s oil for export – about a third – goes to the United States, with Germany in second place with 13%, followed by Japan and France.

Italy’s selling prices are nearly 60% higher than those of Spain, a giant that alone represents 45% of world production.

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