The lesbian countryside began to smell of freshly ground olives, where the liotrivia began to grind this year’s very small but very expensive production.
“We have started and are grinding this year’s early olive fruit production, which this year is healthy and therefore the produced product is of good quality,” says Michalis Tzorgzis, owner of “Tzorgzis Olive Mill – standardization and marketing of olive oil”, to APE-MPE. A company that grinds, standardizes and sells its own oils as well as oils from other producers, for 17 years. It produces and markets standardized conventional and organic oil in 18 mainly European countries and beyond. He managed with a tool the quality of the produced and marketed product to be distinguished but as Mr. Tzortzis says “things this year are difficult”.
The producer price for last year’s oils in warehouses is seven to eight euros per liter or maybe a little more. The production of the olive grove of Mr. Tzortzis, however, this year is 20 to 25% of its capacity. “The signs of the effects of climate change are already evident. The trees have not adapted to the new conditions and this is happening all over the European Mediterranean south. Continued heat and rain in Spain and Italy and Greece. Spain for the second year is below 50% of its production potential. This lack of olive oil from the global ‘player’ in the marketing of the product leads to the increase in prices. Spain sells about two million tons of olive oil annually. This year, it has just 700,000 tons of production. The extra needs will go out again to the world market to buy them. The increased price that he offered last year and offers again this year led to the increase in the price of olive oil” says Mr. Tzortzis, leading us through the unknown paths of the olive oil market that the citizen knows only at the stage of the product on the shelf.
According to Mr. Tzortzis, the increased price of olive oil leads to a decrease in the consumption of the product and an increase in the consumption of other vegetable oils and animal fats. “Mainly, Europe says, that has animal fat in the chain of products it consumes, it should be kept in olive oil. So that when the market normalizes, it has not forgotten about it, with what this will mean for the producers.”
Dimitris Kosvanis from Parakoila in central Lesvos, is 50 years old and has been picking olives for 35 years. This year, he says, is the first year that oil has the right price. “Our parents tell us that when it was a ‘maxul year’, i.e. a year with production, they lived only from the oil they produced. This year the oil has the right price and we too will live from our product”.
Mr. Kosvanis will produce 1.5 to two tons of oil this year, “all of good quality with an acidity of three to four tenths”.
This year’s olive production year is not only difficult because the effects of climate change are clearly visible on the nearly 15 million trees of the Lesbian olive grove.
“The absence of workers in the olive groves is becoming increasingly apparent. And the existing hands are old. The olive grove of Lesbos, which requires more labor than a lowland one, is slowly showing signs of wear and tear. Gradually, parts of it are being abandoned,” asserts Mr. Tzortzis.
A few years ago there was a tax period. Last year the lesbian olive grove gave 30 to 40% of its production potential. This year, it is not expected to exceed 20 to 25%. Lesbos will hardly return to the productions of previous decades.
Aristides Sifnaios, the owner of a large family olive farm with 1500 trees, also agrees with Michalis Tzortzis. “70% are of the lesbian variety kolobi, 20% of the adramytini variety and the rest of the olives are olive oil and other varieties.”
Last year the estate gave it 55% of its capacity. This year, he expects to give him 1/10 of last year’s production.
“We have had signs for years now of the situation we are facing today. We lost all four seasons. The flowering period of the olive in May is not followed as it should be by abundant fruiting. We now have prolonged droughts from May to mid-September, sometimes later. In the eastern part of the island, where the estate is located, it has hardly rained at all.”
This year’s high price for the producers of Lesvos, in most of them, will only cover the damage of the small production of a unique quality product.
Source: APE – MEB