Turkish olive oil production dipped in the 2018/19 campaign compared to the previous harvest year, but continues to increase, overall.
This year was an off-year for many producers and overall production was 183,000 tons. This represents a 30-percent decrease compared to last year, in which Turkish producers enjoyed a record harvest, but a two-percent increase compared to the previous off-year in 2016/17.
Overall, the total yield for this campaign was the fourth highest since records began in 1990. Many producers and officials in the sector believe that Turkey will routinely produce 200,000 tons of olive oil, even in off-seasons, as the country continues to plant more olive trees and olive trees that were planted over the past decade and a half enter maturity.
Some officials even believe that Turkey can overtake Italy, Greece and Tunisia to become the world’s second largest producer. However, in order to accomplish this, harvesting will need to be done on an industrial scale. Many olive growers currently use traditional methods.
Investments will also need to be made in order to mitigate the impact that climate change is having on the world’s fifth largest producer. Summers are getting hotter and staying hotter for longer, which has pushed harvesting dates up into September.
Many of Turkey’s olive growing regions are also getting drier, which means that more investment in efficient irrigation systems, such as drip irrigation, will need to be made. The initial investment is quite expensive, so it is unlikely smaller producers will be able to make the transition without help.
Exports also dipped along with production, falling from 70,000 tons last year to 45,000 tons in the current campaign. Overall, exports have been trending upward over the past half-decade and Turkish producers hope to be able to supply emerging markets in the Middle East as well as East Asia.
Consumption also dipped in comparison to last year’s record levels, but still reached 163,000 tons – the second highest level since records began. An influx of olive oil from the Turkish-occupied Syrian region of Afrin drove down olive oil prices domestically, which has hurt producers but made the product more accessible to consumers.