‘Buy olive oil for Christmas to help Italy’

Italy's oil producers are urging consumers to give olive oil as Christmas gifts and help the industry hard hit by this year's disastrous harvest.

'Buy olive oil for Christmas to help Italy'
The impact of poor weather and pests has devastated Italy’s 2014 crop. Olive oil photo: Shutterstock

“I would ask Italians to exchange extra virgin olive oil labelled ‘Made in Italy’ as gifts,” said David Granieri, president of the nation’s olive oil consortium, Unaprol.

The impact of poor weather and pests has devastated Italy’s 2014 crop and sent wholesale prices skyrocketing.

Unaprol and Ismea, the agricultural statistics agency, estimate Italian production could be down by as much as 35 percent when final figures are tallied, according to Italian daily La Stampa.

Agriculture Minister Maurizio Martina has already introduced measures to support producers and is talking about more aid.

“We are looking at measures together with the regions,” Martina told La Stampa. “Something has already been done.”

He said the government was providing €70 million a year to aid olive production and €100 million for promotion over the next three years. An additional  €1.4 billion in European Union funds had been freed up to assist around one million firms affected by the disappointing season, he said.

Gianfranco Carli, managing director of family producer Fratelli Carli in Liguria, described this year as “dramatic”.

“Every so often you can have below average years but I can’t remember a similar season, between bad weather, fly infestations, and the drastic fall in production,” he told the newspaper.

The company, based in the coastal city of Imperia, employs 350 people and has an annual turnover of €140 million. But this year olive groves have been inundated with heavy rain with a record 468.2 millimetres falling only in the month of November.

Coldiretti, the national farmers’ association, recently expressed concern about a rise in the number of robberies in olive groves, throughout Italy but in particular in the southern region of Puglia after olive flies decimated production.

Olive flies are highly sensitive to climate. Central Italy's combination of cold winters and very hot summers usually keeps them under control but this year's temperatures were more similar to northern Europe.

Heavy rain provided ideal conditions for the insect's reproductive cycle, in which mature flies pierce the olive skin and lay their eggs, allowing larvae to develop inside

Producers in Greece and Tunisia, who have enjoyed bumper harvests this year, are looking forward to grabbing a slice of the high-value market which, they believe, has been cornered by Italy for too long.

READ MORE: Disastrous olive oil harvests drive up prices

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Sagra: The best Italian food festivals to visit in October

If you're visiting Italy in autumn, don't miss the many local food and drinks fairs held around the country. Here are some to visit this October.

Sagra: The best Italian food festivals to visit in October

One of the best things about visiting Italy in the autumn is having the opportunity to attend a sagra, a type of harvest festival or fair centred around one particular food or drink item local to the town hosting it.

sagra has a fairly broad definition: it could last for several weeks or one day, and might consist of anything from a raucous celebration with music and dancing to a lone food stall with a few wooden benches. It will usually be hosted in a field or a piazza, and entry is free.

READ ALSO: Seven reasons autumn is the best time to visit Italy

What all sagre have in common is the focus on eating and drinking fresh local produce, and the assurance that you won’t leave unsated.

Now, the good news is that October is by far the month with the most sagre, with a wealth of events taking place throughout the country that are worth seeking out if you’re in the area. So, here are some of the best sagre happening across Italy this month.


Sagra della Castagna (chestnut festival), 7th-16th October in Calvanico, Salerno.  

Festa della Mela Annurca (‘annurca‘ apple festival), 28th-29th October in Valle di Maddaloni, Caserta.

Sagra del Cinghiale (boar festival), every Friday of the month in Dugenta, Benevento.

Emilia Romagna

Sagra della Salamina da Sugo (salami festival), 5th-9th October in Poggio Renatico, Ferrara.

Sagra del Vino Romagnolo (Romagna’s wine festival), 6th-9th October in Cotignola, Ravenna.

Sagra del Tartufo (truffle festival), 7th-9th October in Bondeno, Ferrara.

Sagra dell’Anguilla (eel festival), first three weekends of the month in Comacchio, Ferrara.


Sagra dell’Uva Cesanese del Piglio (‘Cesanese‘ grapes festival), 30th September-2nd October in Piglio, Frosinone.

Enorvinio (wine festival), 2nd October in Orvinio, Rieti.

Castelli di Cioccolato (chocolate castles festival), 7th-9th October, Marino, Rome.

Sagra delle Tacchie ai Funghi Porcini (‘tacchie‘ pasta and porcini mushroom festival), first two weekends of the month in Bellegra, Rome.

A street seller prepares roasted chestnuts in Rome.

Roasted chestnuts are a staple of Italy’s October ‘sagre’. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP


Castagnata a Caglio (chestnut festival), 2nd-9th October in Caglio, Como.

Festival della Mostarda (mustard festival), 15th October-30th November in Cremona.

Fasulin de l’Oc con le Cudeghe (beans and pork rind festival), 29th-31st October in Pizzighettone, Cremona.


Sagra delle Pesche (peach festival), 1st-2nd October in Leonforte, Enna.

Festa della Nocciola (hazelnut festival), 5th-6th October in Novara di Sicilia, Messina.

Funghi Fest (Mushroom festival), 21st-23rd October in Castelbuono, Palermo.


Sagra della Castagna (chestnut festival), 2nd October in Mathi, Turin.

Sagra del Ciapinabò (Jerusalem artichoke festival), 8th-9th October in Carignano, Turin.

Cioccolato nel Monferrato (chocolate festival), 16th October in Altavilla Monferrato, Alessandria.

Chocolate fair in Milan, Italy.

A number of chocolate festivals take place up and down the boot in October. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP


Sagra del Fungo Amiatino (‘amiatino‘ mushroom festival), 7th-9th, 15th-16th October in Bagnolo, Grosseto.

Sagra delle Frugiate (roasted chestnuts festivals), 9th and 16th October in Pescia, Pistoia.

Boccaccesca (local food festival), 14th-16th October in Certaldo, Florence.

Sagra del Tordo (local food festival), 29th-30th October in Montalcino, Siena.


Sagra del Calzone (calzone festival), 14th-16th October in Acquaviva delle Fonti, Bari.


Festa del Baccalà (cod festival), 30th September-2nd October and 7th-9th October in Montegalda, Vicenza.

Festa delle Giuggiole (jujubes festival), 2nd and 9th October in Arquà Petrarca, Padua.

Mele a Mel (apple festival), 7th-9th October in Mel, Belluno.

Festa della Patata (potato festival), all Sundays of the month in Tonezza del Cimone, Vicenza.


Primi d’Italia (national first courses festival), 29th September-2nd October in Foligno.

Sagra del Sedano Nero e della Salsiccia (black celery and sausage festival), 15th-16th October in Trevi, Perugia.

This list is not exhaustive. Did we miss out your favourite October sagra? Leave a comment below to let us know.