` Not All Good News at Italian Olive Oil Group's Annual Meeting - Olive Oil Times

Not All Good News at Italian Olive Oil Group's Annual Meeting

Jun. 16, 2010
Lucy Vivante

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By Lucy Vivante
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Rome

ASSITOL, the Association of Italian Oil Industry’s Olive Oil and Pomace Oil Group held its annual meet­ing today in Rome and the major take away is that the Made in Italy” cam­paign is not help­ing olive oil sales. It’s low sticker prices that are res­onat­ing with world con­sumers. They shared data accu­mu­lated between November 2008 through October 2009 and for the 12 months of 2009. The asso­ci­a­tion pre­sented some slightly more encour­ag­ing num­bers for this year.

Members of the asso­ci­a­tion, who account for the bottling/wholesaling/distribution of 90% of Italian olive oil, reported domes­tic sales of olive oil (extra-vir­gin to pomace) were down by 10.6% and export sales were down 9.3%. The depressed num­bers were partly attrib­ut­able to a large ASSITOL mem­ber decid­ing to forego fill­ing out the monthly reports required for mon­i­tor­ing. There were some pos­i­tive num­bers in niche seg­ments such as DOP/IGP, where there was a 14% increase, although this seg­ment is small, account­ing for only about 6% of the over­all olive oil/pomace oil mar­ket mon­i­tored by ASSITOL. The first months of this year, as of April, have seen a small increase, over the prior report­ing period, in both the domes­tic and export mar­ket. The Italian olive oil export mar­ket has increased by 0.3% as opposed to an unnerv­ing 18% increase by Spanish exporters so far this year.

Some other olive oil inter­est groups, but not ASSITOL, expected that the EU’s new label­ing rules with coun­try and region of ori­gin data would increase sales of Italian olive oil. ASSITOL believes that it has only added to pro­duc­tions costs by increas­ing lay­ers of paper­work and elec­tronic report­ing require­ments, not just for the EU, but even more oner­ously to com­ply with Italian regulations.

Especially sober­ing num­bers were pre­sented regard­ing Italian exports to the United States. In 2003, 63% of olive oil imported into the United States was Italian made. In 2009, Italian olive oil makes up 56% of the imports. Countries like Spain, Tunisia and other emerg­ing coun­tries have been mak­ing inroads into the US mar­ket, mainly because their oil is cheaper. Tunisia’s share has been grow­ing most rapidly. In 2009, Tunisian olive oil accounted for 16% of US imports, a strik­ing increase from 7% in 2003.

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At the meet­ing, ASSITOL mem­bers unan­i­mously voted for a new President. Mario Ambrosi will replace Leonardo Colavita of the well-known Colavita olive oil brand. Mr. Ambrosi is com­mer­cial direc­tor of Bunge, Italia. Bunge is a com­modi­ties giant and leader in oilseed processing.

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