Blog: Pesto panic

Catherine Sleep | 16 August 2006

Unseasonable weather has destroyed a large part of this year’s basil harvest in the Genoa region of Italy, sparking fears that there will be a dearth of the popular basil-based sauce, pesto alla Genovese.

Hailstones the size of table tennis balls and driving rain have smashed panes of glass on many greenhouses housing the basil. Around 80% of the basil crop was destroyed, costing growers some EUR4m.

While pesto sauce is made in many places, only growers in the Pra area can call their product pesto alla Genovese, as it has been granted PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) status by the European Union. As a result, prices will surely rocket as chefs seek their preferred pesto.

The storms are a stark reminder that food production is inherently fraught with uncertainties. However good your supply chain management is, freak weather can undo everything. In the meantime perhaps it will provide a fillip for pistou, a Provencal version of pesto made without nuts or cheese.

Sorry sir, the pesto's off.


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