Anticipated olive oil production for this year is poised for a substantial decline, attributed not only to the strain on trees from previous years’ excessive production but also to a shortage of labor. Initial forecasts, optimistic at 50% of last year’s output (340,000 tons), now suggest a potentially lower yield, falling below 150,000 tons.
The challenges stem from a combination of factors, including the depletion of trees due to previous overproduction and a notable scarcity of labor. Vassilis Fratzolas from Olive Oil Seminars notes that high production in the previous year coincided with a shortage of workers to harvest the olives promptly. In many estates, olive picking extended beyond January.
Labor shortages have been exacerbated as the workforce, previously comprised of Albanian workers, has shifted. These workers, now grown and seeking employment for their own or managed estates, have become contributors to the overall shortage, as explained by Pavlos Kaplanis, an olive grower and mill owner in Messinia.