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Spain's olive oil producers devastated by worst ever drought

Francisco Elvira picks his way through his scorched olive grove, stopping to inspect the stunted fruit on almost-bare trees.

"Look at them," he says in desperation. "They ought to be bursting with olives now, close to the harvest. But they're empty. And this is the crop that should produce the oil in supermarkets next year."

The fertile plains full of olive trees that stretch across southern Spain have made this country the world's biggest producer of olive oil, accounting for around half of the global supply.

But devastated by its worst drought ever recorded, Spain's so-called "green gold" is becoming rarer. This year's yield is down by around a third already - and there's still no sign of rain.

At the Interóleo factory in Jaén, a province that generates half of all Spanish oil, pumps spurt it into glass and plastic bottles, which pass along the conveyor belt to be labelled "product of Spain".

But the plant, which exports to countries including the UK, is seeing production plummet and prices soar, exacerbating the global food crisis.


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