EU Report Predicts 45 percent Increase in Olive Oil Exports by 2026

The report outlines the current state of the European Union's olive and olive oil sector and examines challenges and future prospects.

Oct. 18, 2017
By Isabel Putinja

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A new report by the European Parliamentary Research Service pro­vides a com­pre­hen­sive overview of the European Union’s olive and olive oil sec­tor as well as the cur­rent chal­lenges it faces and future prospects.

The European Union is the world’s largest olive oil pro­ducer, with 70 to 75 per­cent of the world’s olive oil sup­ply orig­i­nat­ing in nine coun­tries: Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, France, Croatia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta. According to the report, plan­ta­tions in the EU’s olive-grow­ing regions cover a total area of 5 mil­lion hectares with a pro­duc­tion value of over €7 billion.

The report shares a few inter­est­ing facts and fig­ures about olive oil pro­duc­tion in the EU:

  • More than half of the EU’s 5 mil­lion hectares of olive plan­ta­tions are found in Spain.
  • Greece is the only EU coun­try where more than 10 per­cent of olive groves are reserved for table olives.
  • The largest olive farms are in Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal.
  • Spain has the largest olive plan­ta­tions aver­ag­ing 5.8 hectares in size, fol­lowed by Portugal at 2.8 hectares. In other coun­tries, the aver­age plan­ta­tion size is 2 hectares.
  • 35 per­cent of Spain’s farm work­ers work on olive plantations.
  • Most olive farms are small and fam­ily-run, with less than 1 per­cent of work­ers being non-fam­ily mem­bers. In Spain, this per­cent­age is 17 percent.
  • Olive and olive oil pro­duc­tion made up over 15 per­cent of agri­cul­tural out­put in Greece and Spain in 2016.
  • Yields aver­age between 2,000 and 2,500 tons per hectare. Spain and Italy tend to expe­ri­ence higher yields but trends indi­cate that these are increas­ing in Spain and Portugal while declin­ing in Italy and other countries.
  • In 2016, 74 per­cent of the EU’s olive oil was pro­duced in Spain while a fur­ther 22 per­cent was divided almost equally between Greece and Italy.
  • The price of table olives has been steadily increas­ing and ranges from less than €60 per 100 kg in Portugal and Malta to more than €200 in Greece in 2016.
  • The price of extra vir­gin olive oil ranges from more than €300 per 100 liters in Spain, Greece and Portugal, to more than €500 in Italy in 2015. Prices in Croatia and Slovenia are up to 100 per­cent more expensive.
  • Most EU exports of olive oil are headed for the USA, Japan, China, Canada, Brazil and Australia.
  • Most imports come from Tunisia, Morocco and Syria and are headed to Spain and Italy.
  • Italy is the high­est importer of olive oil within the EU, with most imports com­ing from Spain.

The report also out­lines a few of the main chal­lenges faced by the EU’s olive sec­tor. It notes that while pro­duc­tion processes remain largely tra­di­tional, in Spain and Portugal there’s a trend towards increas­ing the size of plan­ta­tions and intro­duc­ing mech­a­niza­tion. A Spanish research study con­cluded that this approach is not a one-size fits all solu­tion” and sug­gests that plan­ta­tions could increase prof­its and avoid mar­ket volatil­ity by focus­ing on inno­v­a­tive har­vest­ing solu­tions, new cul­ti­vars, and pest management.


© Olive Oil Times | Data source: International Olive Council


Market fluc­tu­a­tions due to the unpre­dictabil­ity of yields, extreme weather and dis­ease were some of the biggest chal­lenges faced by coun­tries in the EU’s olive-grow­ing region in recent years. An attempt is being made to address these issues through the risk-man­age­ment instru­ments avail­able to farm­ers under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), while other ini­tia­tives aim to tackle food fraud and dis­putes on the appli­ca­tion of com­mer­cial rules, and strengthen competitivity.

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Looking to the future, the report fore­casts that EU pro­duc­tion is set to rise, espe­cially in Spain where it is pro­jected to increase by 10 per­cent by 2026, while Italy is expected to see a decline of one per­cent. Meanwhile, in terms of inter­na­tional trade, exports are pre­dicted to rise over 45 per­cent by 2026.

In order to reach these goals, financ­ing is being ded­i­cated to research into improv­ing sev­eral aspects of the pro­duc­tion chain, includ­ing sus­tain­abil­ity and pest con­trol, pre­vent­ing fraud, and the recy­cling of waste.

The full report is avail­able here.

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