`Olive Oil Production in China Grows, But Not Like Imports - Olive Oil Times

Olive Oil Production in China Grows, But Not Like Imports

May. 18, 2011
Julie Butler

Recent News

China is tak­ing a great leap for­ward with its olive and olive oil pro­duc­tion and Spain is being urged to get onboard or see Italy or Israel take the lead.

The Chinese Government is reported to be plan­ning a 500 per­cent increase in its cur­rent 33,000 – 40,000 hectares of olive groves in the next five years with the plan­ta­tion of 160,000 hectares in the Himalayas, close to Tibet.

Polytechnic University of Madrid pro­fes­sor María Gómez de Campo sees it as a big chance for Spanish com­pa­nies to offer their exper­tise and tech­nol­ogy. Rather than fear mar­ket loss, they should posi­tion them­selves in the mar­ket, because China is already in con­tact with Italian and Israeli experts,” she said.

According to EFEAgro, Spain is cur­rently China’s main sup­plier in terms of vol­ume of olive oil but Italy leads in trade value.

China already has some olive groves, prin­ci­pally in Sichuan, Gansu and Hubei. In the 60s, olive trees were imported from Albania and Russia, mainly of the Berat” vari­ety.


Gómez de Campo said that the Chinese gov­ern­ment wanted to expand its olive sec­tor to try to pro­vide a liv­ing for rural res­i­dents, hence reduc­ing mass migra­tion to cities, and also for envi­ron­men­tal rea­sons, such as reduc­ing soil ero­sion on steep moun­tain slopes.

She said the expan­sion was likely to be prof­itable but with low yields and chal­lenged by an adverse cli­mate, with wet sum­mers being a par­tic­u­lar prob­lem in some zones. Given its mas­sive pop­u­la­tion, China was unlikely to ever achieve self-suf­fi­ciency in the sec­tor, she said.

The International Olive Council (IOC) esti­mated that by 2020, 160 mil­lion Chinese house­holds will have the pur­chas­ing power to buy olive oil, with many con­sumers increas­ingly influ­enced by Western trends and hav­ing a greater inter­est in healthy nutri­tion than in other mar­kets.

Meanwhile, dur­ing Expoliva last week a Moroccan olive oil del­e­ga­tion was in Jaén as part of a tech­no­log­i­cal coop­er­a­tion visit orga­nized by the Innovation and Development Agency of Andalusia (IDEA). The group learned about orga­ni­za­tions includ­ing the the CITOLIVA Technological Center in Jaén, which devel­ops and pro­motes inno­va­tion in the olive oil indus­try, and del­e­ga­tion mem­ber Abdelilah Saidi, direc­tor of the Moroccan finan­cial insti­tu­tion Credit Agricole de Maroc, spoke about the Agropolis project in his coun­try, which is designed to improve the com­pet­i­tive­ness of agribusi­ness in the strate­gic region of Meknes.

According to IOC fore­casts, Morocco will dou­ble its olive oil pro­duc­tion to 150,000 tons in 2010-11.

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