The greatest drought to hit northern Italy in 70 years is threatening supplies of passata, risotto rice, and olive oil, further escalating the crisis brought on by rising living expenses.
Following growers’ warnings of a “substantial fall” in crop yields this year, specialist importers are preparing for price increases of up to 50% or more for rice and tomatoes and are considering exploring other sources of supply. The Po valley is the source of the arborio rice used in risotto.
According to Kyle Holland, an analyst at market research firm Mintec, the production of olive oil in Italy may have decreased by up to 30% from the previous year.
He claimed that due to Spain’s hot and dry weather, which is predicted to cause crop losses of up to 15%, there could be a “significant dent in the worldwide supply” of the oil.
According to Holland, some olive trees are already failing to bear fruit, which only occurs when soil moisture levels are dangerously low. “According to industry contacts, prices are projected to rise in the upcoming months as a result of the lower production and consequently constrained supply of olive oil.”
According to Walter Zanre, the UK managing director of olive oil specialist Filippo Berio, “the olive crop will be drastically decreased unless it rains very soon.” He continued by saying that the drought would probably also affect the apricot, peach, and pear crops.
According to Mintec, prices of Italian extra virgin olive oil have already increased by 28% since two years ago as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, a significant producer of sunflower seeds and oil, and the challenges associated with harvesting palm oil in south-east Asia.
The chief executive of Eurostar Commodities, which imports rice and tomatoes from Italy, Jason Bull, predicted that he would probably need to search for goods somewhere else. He declared, “I don’t think we’re going to get much out of Italy, and what we do will be very expensive.”
According to Mintec, the price of Italian rice and tomatoes has already increased by more than a factor of two in the last two years.
Farmers claim there is no snow in the Alps, even though it always snows there, and rivers and lakes are drying up, according to Bull. Farmers are still planting, but they are concerned that their crops may rot in the ground because there isn’t any water to support them.
Due to the hot weather, tomatoes are anticipated to be harvested sooner than usual within the next two weeks, and prices are anticipated to increase once more for the most recent crop. For the crop being harvested in October, rice prices are predicted to increase by at least 20 percent.
In response to the growing drought in the Po valley, Italy has released emergency funds and proclaimed a state of emergency in five northern provinces.
According to Coldiretti, the largest agricultural organization in Italy, the drought threatens more than 30% of the nation’s agricultural output as well as 50% of the farms in the Po valley, where Parma ham is made.
Since the north of the country is not accustomed to drought conditions, it lacks the same irrigation systems that aid southern farmers in surviving dry spells.
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