Olive oil imports to Japan continue to grow, with Greece posting record export amounts in 2012 and 2013. Japan imported about 54,000 tons of olive oil and olive pomace oil during the 2012 – 2013 crop year, up 18 percent from the previous period and 44 percent over 2010 – 2011 levels. Greek exports accounted for €2.8 million of the total €194 million oil exports to Japan in 2012. Though expected to level off, Japan continues to register a mild increase in imports as olive oil becomes an established staple ingredient in more Japanese kitchens.
Greek exports expand in some markets, shrink in others
Greek oil exports increased overall in 2013, with the bulk going to Italy and Spain. Other markets shrank, however, including China, which imported 25 percent less oil from Greece over the previous year. The hefty 2012 increase in exports to Germany — which has a large Greek population — was also reversed in 2013 dipping 54 percent from the previous year.
Other growing markets include Bulgaria, where imports of Greek oil rose for the fifth consecutive year in 2012, more than doubling since 2009. Greece is the second largest exporter of olive oil to Bulgaria after Italy, and the fourth largest exporter to Japan, following Italy, Spain and Turkey.
Greek production down
As Greece battles the fallout of adverse weather conditions and olive fruit fly infestation, Greek production of olive oil is expected to decline by over 50 percent for the 2013 – 2014 year effectively reversing the over 20 percent increase to 357 900 tons recorded for the 2012 – 2013 production period. More than 80 percent of Greek annual production is extra virgin olive oil. While olive oil yields have declined, producer prices, however, registered a rise to €2.49/kg at the end of May this year, up 6 percent from the same period a year earlier.
Greek farming expanding
Olive farming has been expanding in Greece, a trend expected to continue, reaching an estimated 767 000 hectares of oil groves in Greece by the year 2020, according to forecasts published by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Agriculture & Rural Development, based on the Eurostat Farm Structure Survey (conducted every three years), amongst other sources.
While overall oil exports are expected to continue their decline between now and 2020, exports to certain markets are still rising, with Greek exports to non-EU countries posting 10 percent growth for the 2012 – 2013 production year primarily to the USA, Russia – and Japan.