Repeated thefts of olives, even while still on trees, the collected crop and refined olive oil around Greece generated a Reuters article this week.
A poor harvest in the country – of only 170,000 tons – and lower production in Spain and Italy, combined with still pesky food price inflation, has led to numerous theft instances in the current season.
Reuters quotes southern Greece grower Panagiotis Tsafaras as saying he’s forced to patrol his groves twice a day, after being robbed twice of more than a ton of olives in just one month.
“It’s the first time this is happening. We had never experienced this in our region,” Reuters quotes Tsafaras, 63, as saying.
The farmer cultivates olive trees in the extreme southern town of Filiatra, in the southeast Peloponnese’s Messinia prefecture – a region known for its famed extra virgin olive oil and table olives.
According to the grower, worse than the theft of the crop is the damage done to the trees, given that thieves beat the olives off the branches with rods or even use noise-less electric saw to slice-off and haul away branches.
The oil is then extracted elsewhere.
Sector representatives told ot.gr last month that prices this season began at 8.5 to 9 euros per kilo, although lower production still means higher rates for the extra virgin variety. Prices reached 9.2 euros per kilo last month, with the last sale between a cooperative of producers and a wholesale bottler falling to 7.7 euros per kilo.