Sponsored by Filippo Berio
Climate change impacts are becoming ever more apparent, as extreme weather events challenge growers and olive oil companies to maintain both supply and the level of quality consumers know and expect. Olive oil–producing regions have faced challenging conditions during the 2022 growing season, resulting in higher expected prices in U.S. supermarkets.
Growers experience challenges
“Olive growers — including world-leading producer countries of Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal, together representing about 68% of the world’s olive oil production in the 2021-2022 crop year — have experienced a year of heat and drought, stressing orchards and affecting yields,” said Dusan Kaljevic, Filippo Berio USA’s deputy CEO. “Although excessive temperatures are not uncommon, this year’s extreme heat arrived early, during critical flowering stages in May.”
The European Drought Observatory noted severe drought affected many regions of Europe since early 2022, with conditions deteriorating by August. The lack of soil moisture and prevalence of vegetation stress reduced many summer-crop yields, including seed oil sources and olives. Consequently, global olive oil production is expected to fall well below 2.8 million tons from the 3.1 million tons recorded last season.
Along with reduced harvests, olive oil companies are grappling with higher costs throughout their supply chains, paying more for everything from raw materials, energy, labor to packaging and shipping. In the last 12 months, raw material prices have risen 34% for extra virgin olive oil and 58% for refined olive oils, leading to an overall increase of 78% and 123%, respectively, in the last 24 months. And realignment of supply chain costs to previous levels is not likely to occur soon, unfortunately.
Filippo Berio takes a harmonious approach
Filippo Berio has dedicated more than 155 years to producing high-quality olive oil, and the reputation for excellence is no accident. Throughout its history, the brand has prioritized working in harmony with its surroundings, a mission that has entailed a significant investment in research to strike the right balance between serving discerning consumers and fostering a healthy, productive ecosystem.
Given the uncertainty posed by climate change, Filippo Berio is investing in and integrating sustainable initiatives to help ensure a reliable source of quality olive oil. “In collaboration with the National Research Council of Italy, we participate in programs that pursue long-term viability of the olive oil industry. For instance, Filippo Berio capitalizes on its roots in Italy, which has the largest number of olive varieties in the world, to promote olive biodiversity,” said Kaljevic. “We cultivate multiple varieties, including ancient and underutilized ones, to uncover productive cultivars that better tolerate climate extremes and exhibit resistance to pathogens. Efforts are proving fruitful, as 18 varieties show promise.”
Further, precision agricultural techniques enable Filippo Berio to hone cultivation methods, and Villa Filippo Berio Grove, consisting of 75 hectares and 22,500 trees of various cultivars, serves as an open-air lab. Here, tradition and innovation dovetail to control and test different techniques in the ecosystem including the trees, soil, air and water. The results inform and refine methods for broader application.
Engaging in resilience research supports Filippo Berio’s plans for the future. In addition to considering the impact of pests and disease, which can ravage orchards, research incorporates soil management. For example, the company is monitoring agricultural lands and testing natural fertilizers that can help reduce water stress, an important factor should droughts become more frequent or pronounced.
Filippo Berio is also an industry leader in sustainable packaging in the U.S. olive oil category. In 2022, the brand introduced a ‘Better Bottle for the Planet’ made of 50% rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate). The bottle requires less production energy than virgin PET bottles, reducing both plastic waste and demand for new, environmentally harmful, petrochemical resource extraction.
Filippo Berio maintains promise of quality… sustainably
“As consumers demand more of companies regarding eco-friendly practices and choose those that demonstrate accountability and transparency, brands with a verifiable track record should see their items outperform,” said Marco De Feo, Filippo Berio USA’s VP of Marketing. “Stocking brands like Filippo Berio, which continues to expand its U.S. market presence and distribution, enables retailers to be part of the equation and build loyalty among shoppers who are seeking quality, affordable and more sustainable products.”
Learn more about Filippo Berio’s sustainable innovation at https://filippoberio.com/sustainability/.