(CNN)Italy could soon be forced to import olive oil to stem a dramatic decline in production, a climate scientist has warned, as extreme weather events wreak havoc with harvests and threaten a shortage of one of the country's most essential culinary products.
Italy could be forced to import olive oil because of extreme weather
Bad weather and frost have crippled the olive oil industry in recent months, causing a 57% drop in production over 2018 and costing the sector almost 1 billion euros ($1.13bn).
The fall has forced oil farmers onto the streets in protest this year, calling for aid and new measures to reverse the trend.
But extreme weather caused by climate change is likely to further damage the sector and could force Italians to look abroad for olive oil, according to Riccardo Valentini, director of the Impacts Division at the Euro-Mediterranean Center for Climate Change.
"We are getting more and more into this complex climate situation of extremes," Valentini told CNN. "In terms of production, probably we can expect this [decline] occurring more and more, if we're not able to cope with this."
"Olive trees are very sensitive to