Sunday, September 23, 2012

Farming is a risky business

The weather plays such a big part in the fortunes of farmers. A good summer can make for a bumper crop and low prices, a bad one leads to a poor harvest and inflated prices. Neither is good and neither is welcome. What farmers would like is a good average harvest year on year.

Last year the olive crop in Spain was very good which lead to cheap prices meaning that many farmers were left on the breadline. This year, the harvest will be poor. Frosts during the flowering season followed by a long dry summer means that the fruit produced are small and shrivelled - prices will be high.

Spain accounts for over half of the worldwide crop of olives, so a poor crop here has a devastating effect on the market. Already, the wholesale price of oil has jumped by 62% in three months and is set to go much higher.

Of course, this will have minimal impact in Britain where the average consumption is just one half litre per year but in countries like Italy where average consumption is much higher at 14 litres, it will be a major issue.

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