` U.S. Olive Oil Imports Climb with Help from Spain and Morocco - Olive Oil Times

U.S. Olive Oil Imports Climb with Help from Spain and Morocco

Mar. 9, 2012
Julie Butler

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Italy and Turkey have lost ground to Spain, Morocco and Tunisia in the United States olive oil and pomace import mar­ket, which has grown 11 per­cent in half a decade to reg­is­ter a record 292,049 tons last crop year.

Italy remains by far the biggest sup­plier for the US mar­ket. Its 149,444 tons — almost all pre-bot­tled — accounted for 51 per­cent of total US imports last crop year (October to September) but that’s down from 59 per­cent five years ago.

According to the International Olive Council’s February mar­ket newslet­ter, the next biggest source is Spain, account­ing for 23 per­cent — up from 18 per­cent in 2006/07 — and Morocco has top­pled Tunisia to occupy third place. More than half of Spain’s and almost all of Morocco’s US exports are in bulk.

Morocco’s explo­sive growth was fueled by its olive expan­sion plan and higher pro­duc­tion,” the IOC said. The coun­try has leaped from sup­ply­ing less than one per­cent of US olive oil imports in 2006/07, with 2,002 tons, to 9.6 per­cent in 2010/11, with 28,156 tons.

Meanwhile US imports from Turkey have tum­bled from 14,315 tons in 2006/07 to just 1,059 in 2010/11.

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U.S. imports by coun­try over the last five crop years (tons) — Source: IOC

Virgin olive oil dom­i­nat­ing

Of all the olive and olive pomace oil imported, 65 per­cent was vir­gin grade (of which 67 per­cent was bot­tled), 29 per­cent was olive oil and the rest was olive pomace oil (71 per­cent of which was in bulk). There is a grow­ing ten­dency to import vir­gin olive oil,” the IOC said.

It also reported that in the last 18 years bulk imports have enjoyed greater growth in US imports than those of packed prod­uct.

World olive oil and table olives mar­ket

Worldwide, imports in the first three months of the cur­rent crop year (October – December) are up 3.4 per­cent on the same period a year ago. Imports into China are up 33 per­cent, Russia 20 per­cent, Japan 9 per­cent, Brazil 4 per­cent and the US 1 per­cent. Conversely, imports into Australia fell 25 per­cent — with a par­tic­u­larly stark decline in December — and Canada 7 per­cent.

In the table olive mar­ket, imports into Brazil and Canada are up 24 and 12 per­cent on the same period last crop year but down 12 per­cent in the US, and eight per­cent each in Australia and Russia.

Producer prices

Compared with this time last year, the price for extra vir­gin olive oil in Spain is 9 per­cent lower (€1.82/kg) , 6 per­cent in Greece (€1.84/kg) and 23 per­cent in Italy (€2.35/kg). Prices in Italy and Greece have not var­ied in the past two months. However, in Spain, they have recorded a slight upturn after hit­ting their low­est level in the last three crop years,” the IOC said.

It made no com­ment on why the price in Italy had slumped but it’s under­stood that one key fac­tor is that Bari, in Puglia, is used as the ref­er­ence point and prices in that region have slipped after a big increase in pro­duc­tion.

The pro­ducer price for refined olive oil — cur­rently €1.68/kg in Spain and €1.77 in Italy — is in both cases down 7 per­cent. These prices are lying at the low­est level since the last three crop years,” the IOC said.

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